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By Philip Quirke

Late November. Sunrise over the harbour at 8.43 am. This day is cloudless. Pale yellow rays on the mirror-water suffuse the east-south expanse of the wide estuary. A mussel boat pushes down-river on a spring tide still rising, to test its recently serviced mechanics. Wavelets rib away from the prow to the breakwater, and splash gently against the stone barrier by the inner curve of the storm wall.

Fire and water. The radiant sun upon which we are dependent for each miniscule quantum of energy. speaks to us mightily of ‘God’, or of our dependence on itself, the sun, with the galaxy which sustains this sun. A relatively small ball of fiery fusion, relative to giant stars, relatively large in relation to its life-infused rock we call planet earth. The water bears up the boat, rinses the detritus taken by the river from storm drains. The river is at the end of its passage through the land, and greets the sea with its salt and other minerals. It is quiet in its currents this time this day; it has know storm these few days past, but did no harm to the quayside.

The early morning walkers with their dogs have departed. Some thoughtless, careless, have left the mark of their animal. The walkers following are those who like the early sun. See them at 5.25 am in high summer, and 8.47 am in winter. Hello. We recognise each other, but say only ‘hello, nice morning’ or ‘hello, grand morning, nice day’, or ‘good to see you out in the fresh air’. Or ‘sharp wind from the north’, or ‘that wind would skin you’. But ‘once you can get out of bed’, or ‘put two feet under you, isn’t it grand’. The morning prayer of gratitude.

The sounds on the air, on the breeze, are people in their vehicles going to their place of work. They are the gulls crying, the engine of the mussel boats rehearsing departure, the occasional cries of greeting, the putt-putt of the outboard motor, and then the horn of the train heading north, with its slow rumble up the tracks. Trucks offload their cargo to the supermarkets and stores. An air of busyness slowly disperses as the work-a-day establishes itself.

We turn, each of us, to the living of this day, one day, the only day: hoping to make sense of the gift and challenge of our being here. This task is easier to undertake for some than for others. But each has the task...

[to be continued]


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