Painter at Work

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane, Australia)

The master painter has been at work again
Eyes wide open
Smitten with a burst of rosy pink

I blink
Heart beating
Spirit stirring

The Master Painter is bringing
His delicious slice of morning

Iced with magenta
Clear as a sweet young Red

Bouncing out of bed
Dressed
Racing to be clear of the houses and trees
Braving the crisp winter breeze

But He has swished away the pinks and the reds
Spreading glorious gold instead
Lusciously layered with perfect precision

And now the sun has risen
This bowl of liquid gold is spllling
Glimmering and shimmering
Across the blanketing fog below

His fresh stretched canvas
Aglow
Banquet spread

Ready for another new day

Joan Westaway © July 2014

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Dead Sea at Dusk ... In coach

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane, Australia)

Misty blue

Purple too

Salt Sea sitting so low

Judean Hills

Soft in the sun

Day nearly done

Slowing to evening's slow

Shimmering

Softly glimmering

Life-giving

Date palms all in a row

Delicious evening

Night time beginning

Contentedly singing

Bathed in His glorious glow

Joan Westaway © 30 September 2014
During our Sept-Oct 14 tour of Israel…
Entranced by the colours of the hills as we drove the length of the Dead Sea towards Jerusalem…
Almost smelling the sheer saltiness even now!

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Alone

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

ALONE

ALONE

Alone:

The ultimate state of being alone- when the only person in the whole wide world who has ever loved you, abandons you, and none of the rest of your family, your community, even gives you a thought!
So it was with my friend when her Daddy died.

Her vivid remembrance of standing in that raw nakedness of aloneness, fearfully peering round the doorway, into where the mourners gathered… was the starting point for some amazing prayer ministry.

When my notes morphed into verse, my dear friend insisted I share her story as needed, so others may hear of the awesomeness of her Heavenly Father’s redemptive love. So here it is…

Alone…

I was standing in the corner of the door…
Watching, waiting, shaking
My orphaned heart breaking
No words of comfort, no thought of me
My father was dead, he’d abandoned me

Abandoned by the living and abandoned by the dead
Hardly daring to move my head
Staying so still holding my breath
All around was this deadly death
Nobody there saw the loneliness

None saw my grief, none saw my loss
Nobody even saw me standing there
In the corner of the door, there was no one to care
No one had cared like my father had done

Now I was lonely, I was alone
He’d been my protection, now he is gone
Nobody cared about me

God, where were you in my loneliest time
No one cared and I was only nine

Forgiving those who who’d been ignoring me
I see two arms reaching out to me

I see a river flowing past
Now it’s a torrent rushing so fast
And those hands are gentle and those arms are strong
And the sky is blue, I’m no longer alone

No longer abandoned, an orphan no more
God never left me as I stood by the door
I just didn’t know it, just didn’t see
My Heavenly Father always cared about me

His arms are secure and his arms are strong
And they hug away that pain in my heart for so long

Now I let it go and release all my loss
And lay it at last at the foot of the cross
The river stops raging and clears and calms
I am safe and secure in my Father’s arms

‘The Spirit of Adoption I’m giving to you’
He’s whispering to me, and I’m glad it’s so true
And the door has been closed, the key has been turned
Locked and secure and bridges burned

I can shout and declare that I am set free
Accepted and comforted, set free indeed
The loss of my father is wrapped in God’s love
As my Heavenly Father loves me

Joan Westaway © 18.4.13

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Hot dry dusk…

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane, Australia)

Hot dry dusk
Tackling evening head on

Fan-forced oven
Switching to low

Breathing its last for the day
Blowing life into the coming dark

Still blushing pink
Flushing out

Flashing pink to grey
Galahs screeching

Sweeping away the heat haze
Muffling the home-bound

Drowned no more
In the hard dry heat of today


Joan Westaway © 8th February 2014

It can be hot here in sub-tropic Brisbane, but it is fun to look at the day’s end through the colours of summertime!

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Three in the Morning

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)


When I awoke at three in the morning, this time I asked,"What is happening? What are you showing me?"

I listened in the silence... and then had to scramble to get the story down!

Three in the morning
Two hours to the dawning
All is quiet and still

Then across from the hill
Storm bird is calling
Mournfully warning

Not sure of a storm
But hoping
Then back to his moping

Hiding his hope in the dark
Moon’s hiding too
Hidden from view

In the quiet that cloud cover brings
In the silence that sweetly descends
Then just as abruptly ends

With a chortle and a chuckle
From my kookaburra couple
From their post overlooking the park

Discussing the weather
Whether the weather will storm
Cos it’s been so warm

Their chattering fades
As they wait
For the hoped-for cool damp of morn

Joan Westaway © 4/12/2014

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Blocks

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)


We all build walls, don't we -
We get to be experts at building walls of protection. These walls get higher and stronger, to protect us from the pain of each unmet need, each unhealed hurt, each unresolved issue, on and on and on, higher and higher, stronger and more ingenious! Just so we can survive! Or that's what our wounds tell us! And don't you touch my bricks, my blocks, my rocks! Mine!

One day as I was praying for a friend who had a magnificent strong defence system, something somehow kicked in and flicked a playback switch, scrolling throuh the files of my own gruesome saga. Yep! Been there! Done that! Even have the t-shirt! I'd held an owner-builder permit even before I could walk!

But, it's tough in the middle of all those rocks and blocks and I got out! Memories sort of got tossed into a concrete mixer along with my friend's present pain, tumbled around a bit, then poured onto paper...

Blocks

A pile of gnarly rocks

More like heaps of Besser blocks

Prison wall, a barricade

Block by block, deliberately laid

Protection from the rejection

From the pain and the shame

Always the same
Same old, same old…

Layer by layer

Higher and higher

Cyclical information

Generation to generation

Everything’s always the same

Everything will stay the same

That’s the name of the game
Same old, same old…

Despairing of those needs unmet

Hiding inside the grief of debt

Time to go another step

To pick up a block to place on my wall

And I turn it over and written on it

I see through my tears in tear-stained script
Same old, same old…

Generations of this terrible curse

Never gets better, only gets worse

Always the same
Like father, like son with the blame
And the shame

The enemy’s won and the struggles remain
Same old, same old…

Drowned in dismay,

Drenched in despair

Debt that drags down

Doubt clouds the air
Same old, same old…

Taking stock of these blockading blocks

Knee high, thigh high

Even up to my eye high

When will it ever stop?
This same old, same old

What if I choose to stop the rot

To drop this block

This tear-stained block

What if I could let it go

Then smash them all down,

Row upon row

Where would I be?

I’d be free!

Joan Westaway © 6.8.2014

submitted 15/12/2014

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Letting Go...

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

In the clean sweet peace of a Silky Oak grove at a retreat in the Bunya Mountains, I felt free to let go a mixed bag of emotional junk.

There was that hushed expectation for moment of release, ready with that breeze to blow away the fallen leaves of ungrieved grief, with that whisper that only Silky Oaks can do!


Letting Go…

Sharp crisp green
So clean
Crying to my soul
Come
Be seen
Let the light of day
Say
Give it up
Let the darkness fade away

Stiff upper lip
Loose that grip
Do not cling to the past
Let it pass
Do not deny
The angry cry of your heart
Hold no more to the shame
Let the blame go
The milling and shrilling
Of those names
In your brain

Are you willing to tell them to slow
Letting go

And to think that I thought
I ought to blame others
For things that they never did
But I hid in my heart
A bitterness
So bitter
In this bottomless pit of grief
This thief
This destroyer of joy

Hearing you
Now you’re calling my name
You came for my joy
That I may have life
To live in the truth
That you’ve taken my grief
And that you
Are wrapping me
In the sweet fresh breath
Of your love

Joan Westaway © 22.02.2014 God’s Hill- Bunya Mountains Q

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Reprieve...

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

It was just another day on the farm...

Reprieve...

Hot afternoon, trudged in from the farm
Collecting Smokos for the men
Nothing ready, Mum was sick
What a day to have a temp

Two cardigans on top of pyjamas
To guard against a chill
Thirty-five in the kitchen
Enough to make you ill

It’s okay Mum, you sit down
I’ll make the tea today
Ghastly, I thought, she’s really sick
What am I going to say

Better put the kettle on
A couple of Aspirin and bed…
She stiffened… she began to fit
Oh! No! She’ll hit her head

Just like a slow-motion movie
I saw her pitch to one side
Body convulsing and stiff
Face all weird and wild

Everything all distorted
For a bit I couldn’t move
Eyes rolled up in the top of her head
That was aiming for the stove

Grabbed her quick, held on tight
Seemed she weighed a ton
Braced myself against the stove
Now, where are her sons?

Keep the airway clear, don’t let her choke
Don’t let her bite her tongue
Things you remember in theory
In practice, aren’t easily done

Both my hands were clutching her
She’d be safer on the floor
Couldn’t reach the telephone
It was halfway up the hall

We were somehow wedged between the stove
The table and two kitchen chairs
What do you do in a time like this
I began to say my prayers

Oh Lord, Help! What do I do
She’s heavy and I can’t move
Wish I could shift the pressure
Of my back on the edge of the stove

Mum! Please stop this shaking
She seems to have cut her lip
Well she certainly stopped her shaking
And seemed to came out of that fit

She suddenly went all floppy and limp
Then she began to slip
Struggled with her dead weight in my arms
With the stove biting into my hip

With one foot I reached a chair
Somehow got it in place
Grasping her tight I eased her round
My heart flipped when I saw her face

Instead of looking better
Instead of coming round
Death-mask grey coloured her face
Not a sign of life was found

Eyes looked dead in the top of her head
She still didn’t take a breath
Time stood still, I waited
All I could see was death

Oh God! I cried, don’t let her die
If she dies she’s going to hell
She’s my Mum-in-law and I love her
She’s been good and kind as well

But she’s never really wanted to hear
She just hasn’t known what to believe
God, give her another chance, I pray
Another chance to live

I watched… and waited… with bated breath
Then… a miracle was seen on her face
Those fixed and staring upturned eyes
Returned to their proper place

Her deathly pallor began to change
The blue on her lips went away
Her chest moved again with life-giving breath
Mum was back to stay

Praise the Lord, I wanted to shout
All I did was cry
As I heaved her square on her kitchen chair
She wasn’t going to die

I loosened her clothes, kissed her damp head
My legs then turned to jell
I flopped down on the other chair
The shock was beginning to tell

Sat there for a moment
Needing to catch my breath
Thinking of what had just happened
Of Mum’s close shave with death

We all have to die sometime I know
But we all have a choice to make
Life with God… or hell… for eternity
A choice Mum will have to make

Joan Westaway © 1990


The wonderful postscript to this...

Several years later, in spite of advancing Alzheimers, our loving God gave a small window of opportunity to share the Gospel with her in a very simple way! And there was fruit too! Another story maybe?



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Camel Ride...

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

I'm living one of my dreams..

I'm living one of my dreams..

Maybe this should be entitled "Overcoming Fear Of ..... ".

For starters, I had given up any thoughts of riding a horse more than fifty years ago, for any number of insurmountable reasons (pun intended).

Horses were too high to get up, too high to get down. Then, to add to the litany of plausible excuses, my legs were too short and unreliable!

So when we were offered a camel ride in the desert, I had to do a quick peep at the shame and fear of being the one-left-behind... and flipped it over to my Abba, who'd gotten me on this amazing tour of Israel in the first place.

He caught it deftly, as He does, and the ride was happening...

Camel Ride

Walk around the side
Pick the one with the smile
Padded hand grip
Gorgeous hare lip

We’re going to be friends for a while
Loving the braid and the tassels
Just don’t want any hassles
So I choose to come from behind

Already made up my mind
Left leg over and a jiggle
A heave then a wiggle
And I’m on

For dear life I’m holding on
Then it’s one, two, three up and we’re off
Legs gripping the rough saddle cloth
As into the desert we go

Camels plodding row upon row
It is bumpetty bump
Like a lump on a hump
Heart thumpetty thump

Like a boat in a southerly breeze
Cramping that grows in the knees
These ships of the desert
You’d never have guessed it

But I’m living one of my dreams
The dream that seems
So far away
So it’s up the wadi we go

Taking it nice and slow
Till we turn back for home
Then it’s one, two, three, down
Swing the leg over and I’m down

More photos and smiles
Feeling those bone-bouncing miles
I’ve done it
And will do it again!

Joan Westaway © Oct 2014 from the Bedouin Camp, Israel

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April

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

declaring to the world...

declaring to the world...

April

April blew in the other day
With a whisper of warm mixed in
With dampness of dawn

Following up days of grey
Dew wet lawns
Magpie footprints marking the way

Kookaburras chuckling away
Greenies squabbling
Ripping strips off the old paperbark

Sun-drenched spaces
Wind swept parks
Orphaned leaves drifting
Leaving their mark

Damply settling in laziness
Gazing at the white puffiness
Against the bluest of blue

Leatherheads carolling
How good to be back again
Revisiting yet another time
Vocal community refines, defines

The crispness of our April time
Honey-eaters, Currawongs
Magpie’s magic, swelling song
Declaring to the world

April has come

Joan Westaway © 22.04.2014




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Faded Dreams...

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

Faded Dreams

Hadn’t seen it for many years
This faded sketch
Faintly etched
Shyly hidden

Tears springing unbidden
Bringing memories
One of many dreams hidden away

Yet it seems
Today is the day
I’m hearing You say

Dust off the dust
To look again
To trust

Pick up the broader pen
Retrace those dreams
Strokes broad and bold
Must be told

And as your Spirit breath
Breathes vibrant life
Into these pencilled dreams
No longer hidden in the depths

It seems
The time for them to live is now

Joan Westaway © 18 April 2015

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Chilly Winter’s Day…

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

Chilly Winter’s Day…

It’s kind of chilly
Really
But why wouldn’t it be
It is winter

Wintery chilly middle-of-winter
Sunny yet nippy
Grass is so slippery

Shyly hiding
Cowering
Beneath the browning

The falling downing
Leaves withering
Littering and decaying

Layering
For worms to snuggle in
Wriggling, hiding in
Evading magpie’s gaze

Wondrous busy days
Amazed at the ways of life
And the living

Bringing senses alive
Cold numbness feeling
The sneaky chilliness

The overt silliness
With winter wooliness
Till the sneaky breeze

Sneezes
Whipping some leaves
Stripping some trees

And just as sneakily
Sneaks up on me
Whispering bleakness past ears and nose

Reminding me of the cold of my toes
Sneaking past pond
Up the path and beyond

Enticing
Inviting
In through the side door

With its cold tiled floor
And retreat to the treat of
Heart-warming
Hand-warming
Home-made vegetable soup

Joan Westaway © 15 July 2015





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Alzheimer's Disease

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

Alzheimer’s Disease - 31/12/90
(From an old journal, re-discovered recently)

My mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s Disease
The experts talk of neuro-fibrillary tangles and pathologically induced lesions of the brain. The practicality of it has been to deal with, on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis, the progressive loss of memory, then cognition, then the loss of all body functions.

One cynic might say, the living dead, another could say, the dead living… but she is still Mum and I love her.

She lies there sleeping, often sleeping, always sleeping it seems. Worn out and weary after a hard long life… she lies there sleeping, sometimes snoring softly, sometimes with a twitch in her right arm, yet often I have to lean over close to see if she is still breathing.

I stand and watch her for a while.
Lying on her side, she is curled up as much as her stiff body allows. Like a foetus perhaps… Alzheimer’s, the back-to-babyhood disease…

All those skills once learned, now un-learned one-by-one… All those bodily functions so taken-for-granted are slowing down… An infant within the body of old age, as completely dependent for all care as she was as a babe, some eighty-eight years earlier.

She stirs, stiffly stretching. I reach out and touch her gently. She startles and opens her eyes, blankly uncomprehending, looking straight past me. Then her eyes close again without seeming to see me.

Sleeping again.

I sit down beside her on the edge of the bed.
Where is the warm kindly, efficient woman I first knew? Mum had always been there in her home. I knew how she had lovingly nursed her own husband through the heartbreak of cancer only a few years before I met my husband…

She was always there as senior partner in the farm business… She was always there at home for her boys… She was there for her grandchildren as they came along.

She is still here.

And between us, those same boys and I are caring for her. Her oldest son, unmarried, still in the family home, does the night shift. I do the day shift, 7.30 in the morning till an hour after dark and the men are finished for the day.

Sometimes, like a short while ago, when there is no personal response, we can only guess what may be going on behind the blank stare of seeming indifference. Yet sometimes there is a response, and each one is treasured.

I take her hand in mine, and as I do, I lean over and touch my cheek to hers and say, “Mum, I love you.” A slight change in expression on her face, then without bothering to open her eyes, she tries to form with her lips a response. It doesn’t quite come out, but she is saying, “I love you too.”

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Yada Time

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

Yada Time

Our secret garden
Ponytail palms
Curtain of green
Peeping through

Seeing your longer view
Sunshine drenching
Quenching
Reviving my thirst for you

One drop of dew
Surviving
Thriving
Catching my eye

Awakening
Beckoning
Drawing me back to you

To stand
Hand in hand

Dreaming
Seeing
Healing
Redeeming land and time

With you

Joan Westaway © 17.2.2014

(Yada- beautiful Hebrew word for Intimacy)

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Only You Can Satisfy...

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

ONLY YOU CAN SATISFY

Only you can satisfy
To quench my thirst
When I am dry

Only you can touch my life
With living dreams
Of real life

It is who I am in you
Not what I do
Finding myself in you
Finding who I am in you

In you to find identity
In you to find the real me
So I can be
Filled with you

Hidden in you
Revealing you
Sealing your love
Sent from above
Your love-letter written by you

Joan Westaway 23 July 2015

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WHO AM I?

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

WHO AM I

She was three- just like me
Sonya her name, lovely and free

Twirling and dancing
Flirting, romancing

Delightfully entrancing
Not like Plain-Jane me.

Braces on legs, couldn’t run
So ashamed, not much fun

Sonya was fun and she could run
Not poor me

So I stole her name
To cover all shame

And so it started, a serious game
Call me Sonya or I won’t do

Anything you want me to
So little Joan into Sonya grew!

Joan, off to bed! I shook my head
Not till you call me Sonya instead

Control was the game with that stolen name
I’d become Sonya to escape the shame

Identity lost, hidden from me
From long before birth, not just at three
So who am I? Who’s the real ‘me?

Blessings withheld, praises unsaid
With unhealed hurts and a brave face instead

Just as if little Joan was dead
And trying so hard to be good all the time

Struggling with this identity of mine
Was I someone else or was I me

Cried out to God; Help ‘Me’ to be ‘Me’
Not someone like Sonya, I want to find Me

Can real Joan stand up, can she be heard
He touched my heart- and I heard His word…

Joan, you have a lovely name
All about Grace, not about shame

Wear your name, fits like a glove
Fits so perfectly, came from above
Whispered to your Mum, wrapped up with my love

So at the ripe old age of seventy-three
The light switched on and Joan is ‘Me’!

Forgiven, accepted, heart overflows
Singing, dancing, full of hope

Feet like hinds feet, steady and sure
Loved, accepted, identity secure

Provision, abundance, plenty and peace
Significance, security, set free, released

God’s gracious Grace declared in my name-
Goodbye Sonya! Hello Joan!

Joan Westaway © 27.02.2013

"Sonya Elizabeth- The Story Behind the Name"

We were three little girls, all aged three, my cousin Maureen, her little friend Sonya, and me. It was way back in 1942, during a family outing to the lovely old Brisbane Botanic Gardens, with those vibrantly green lawns sloping down to the lake.

I so vividly remember rolling down the slopes with giggles, but was not so good at getting back up! It was those horrid braces I had to wear to straighten my legs!

Just as vividly I remember becoming besotted with Sonya. She was beautiful, and I wanted to be her! I realise now that I was very insecure deep down and really had no idea that I was rather special and pretty too. But I so desperately wanted to be all that Sonya was!

So, rebellious day-dreamer that I was, I decided that I was Sonya, to the extent that I wouldn’t do anything except if parents and grandparents and anybody around called me Sonya Elizabeth! It made me feel ‘somebody’!

Most weeks we would be in town for up to 6 hours, so while the oldies did business, I was taken up in the lift in the old City Buildings which had a wonderful Crèche for us children.

It was here I pulled my stunt again. Old Ernie, the one-legged lift operator used to hoist us children onto a seat at the back of the lift. Such an ancient one it was, with a metal concertina door.

“Up you come Joan Elizabeth” he'd say… ”No! I’m Sonya Elizabeth!” “Up you come then Sonya Elizabeth!” He too played the game each weekly trip into the city till I started school! Just as the family did at home! Somehow, sometime later, the fun eased off, but Ernie kept it up!

I dropped by as an awkward 14 year old and he called me Sonya Elizabeth. Then, as a young adult, about 18 or 19, I was passing by. Just for fun I stopped at the City Building Lift (the Child-minding had long since closed).

I was all dressed up with the hat, stockings and gloves of the era. “Hello Ernie!” and then came his “Hello Sonya Elizabeth!” That old friend had tears in his eyes. “So glad you dropped in today.

Today’s my very last day! Tomorrow (Saturday) they dismantle this ancient manual lift and by next week there’ll be a modern automatic one!” Apparently he was looking forward to retiring to Bribie to catching up with some fishing!

I’d often retold that story, enjoying how old Ernie played the game to the end. Then just recently, with a shock, I realised the implication of it!

Here it was, a seriously huge Loss of Identity that I carried. It had been from long before birth... (long story, for another time) Now I could see why I had stolen Sonya’s delightful, fairy-tale identity through her name.

So many of the unhealed hurts, unmet needs and unresolved issues around that deep-buried uncertainty about myself, have now been identified and healed.

Being ‘her’ had made me feel good. But I am discovering more and more of those God-given gifts and traits that had been stolen or hidden from me all those years. And I’m having so much fun unpacking them!

So that is how it is “Goodbye Sonya!” ~ “Hello Joan!”

(PS: Joan comes from the Hebrew and means 'God is Gracious' or 'The Grace of God')



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It's that Time before Christmas... sub-tropic Brizzie style

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

It’s That Time Before Christmas…

It’s that time before Christmas we all know so well
There’s so much to do, so much to tell
So this year let’s be ready without any fuss
We’ll plan it so perfectly before it plans us
So out with the Santa hats and Christmassy things
On with the smile that Christmastime brings

Now, the first sign of Christmas, it starts to get hot
Exams, sort of finished and the jacarandas dropped
Tinsel and baubles spring forth everywhere
In the hope Saint Nicholas soon will be there
Then the magic of TV casts spells on our kids
To be trendy trendsetters that’s costing us quids

Each night as our innocents are tucked in their beds
It’s not visions of sugarplums that dance in their heads
But Play-station CDs and Tickle-Me Elmo
Dalmatian puppies and designer yo-yos
So wish lists are written and littlies ask
Does Santa do email or we still have to post

It’s that time before Christmas when decisions are made
Like punch in the punchbowl or coke and lemonade
Seafood or salad, turkey or chook
A Jesus birthday cake or traditional pudd

It’s that time before Christmas when the tree comes out
Tinsel and ornaments are hung all about
Christmas lights untangled and handled with care
For the bulbs gone missing we search everywhere
The wreath made of pinecones gathered long ago
Stencils for the windows and a can of Santa snow

Carefully we unpack the Nativity scene
Setting it up where it’s always been
Mary and Joseph in the stable, Baby Jesus in his crib
Wise men from the east with gifts they came to give
Shepherds and angels and the star above them all
It’s the first thing you see as you come through the door

It’s that time before Christmas that everyone knows
When the flesh becomes weak and corns grow on toes
As we join in the clamour, join in the rush
Pounding the pavements to shop till we bust

Expectantly setting off with our Christmas shopping list
Hoping against hope for the elusive perfect gift
So the bankcards get swiped, the barcodes get scanned
As the spending-spree fever sweeps over the land
Till visions of bankruptcy swirl in our heads
Balancing our bankcards we’ll toss in our beds

The carollers stroll through the shopping mall
Singing ‘Joy to the World, our Saviour is Born’
Singing ‘Silent Night’, ‘The First Noel’
Familiar words that we know so well
And the rise and fall of their voices sweet
Brings a quiet to the soul and a rest to the feet
To sip at a coffee as the crowds hurry by
Then to look at the list and get up with a sigh

It’s that time before Christmas when time goes so fast
And these days before Christmas will … go past at last
And…

It’ll be the night before Christmas when all through the house
Not a creature will stir, not even a mouse
And the stockings will hang by the chimney with care
In the hope that Saint Nicholas soon will be there

Joan Westaway © Christmas 1992

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Blue Sky

by Joan Westaway


I’m wondering why
Who’s been playing around in the sky
Flicking white
Trickling drips and drops
Dragging and daubing
Mopping them up

Throwing on more
Swishing and splashing
Squiggling curly bits
Angel fingertips
Drawing feathery strips

Then with a breezy whiff
Twirling them round
Swirling round and round
Blowing and clearing
More reappearing

Feather white
Dazzling bright
Then clumping
Lumping together
Waiting

To paint again
My blue sky
For me!

Joan Westaway © 20/5/2015

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No Room in the Inn

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

No Room in the Inn-

Reminiscences of an Innkeeper’s wife… looking back

‘Twas a night like this, so long ago, here in Bethlehem
Everyone needing a place to stay, there was no room in the inn
People, people, everywhere, couldn’t take anyone more
Never felt so exhausted! Another knock at the door

XXX3 knocks...

No, we both were nodding; then I saw her huddled there
Seated on a donkey, still no room to spare!
She looked so very tired, about to have her child
Must have travelled all day long, many bumpy miles

“My name is Joseph”, the young man said. “Mary is here with me
Been hoping for a place to stay- her time is near, you see,”
My husband and I just looked at them, shook our heads and said
“Sorry! Wish there was room, but there’s not another bed!”

Perhaps we could use the stable, where all the animals slept
A little corner of the cave- we’d better get it swept
Make it nice and cosy, with clean fresh straw on the floor
A rug or two lie on, another across for a door
~ ~ ~
Later, so much later, there were noises right outside
Footsteps in the courtyard; who’d be out at night?
Half asleep, I heard the words “It’s just like the angel said”
Shaking my head to clear it I stumbled out of bed

Angel? What angel? Then I heard another one say
“A Saviour who is Christ the Lord was born to us today”
Is the Christ, Messiah, Israel’s precious hope?
Perhaps I’m only dreaming? Perhaps it’s just a joke!

In the moonlit courtyard were half a dozen men
Looking just like shepherds- I blinked my eyes again
Made no sense to me at all, shepherds never leave their sheep
Must be dreaming after all! Back to bed to sleep
~ ~ ~

Keeping an inn is a fulltime job, up before the dawn
The children up before us, had heard the babe was born
Breathless and excited, they came running in to me
Jumping up and down with joy, “Please may we go and see?”

Tiptoeing around toward the cave, to the stable at the side
Peeping round the makeshift door, there they were inside
Mary with her newborn son, gentle smiling face
Joseph standing by her side; such peace was in this place

Awed we were with wonder, so excited too
What with angels, then shepherds, now baby Jesus too
So this was God’s long-promised King, born in a stable poor
Side by side with animals; not even a proper door

No richly woven coverings, nor silken drapes around
But fresh silky cobwebs and sweet fresh straw on the ground
Mary kept it in her heart, storing it like treasure
Special smile upon her face; joy without measure

But chores to do, the inn was full, another busy day
A room to prepare for Jesus, as others went on their way
The shepherds back with their sheep, on the hill outside the town
Everything in Bethlehem began to settle down
~ ~ ~
XXX three knocks...

More visitors at night-time XXX- Some wise men from afar
Came to worship Jesus; led here by a star
Gifts of myrrh and frankincense, gold fit for a King
Mary was smiling her smile again, treasuring everything

One thing we didn’t know- King Herod in Jerusalem
Had heard about our Jesus- and planned to murder him!
But an angel warned the wise men he was after the child
So they went home another way- making Herod wild!
~ ~ ~

That was why, when the wise men left, Joseph left secretly
Warned by an angel to flee by night, with his little family
Safe he was, but safe from what, we had no idea
More visitors would come at night but Jesus wouldn’t be here!
~ ~ ~
Our little boy was on my lap, my husband by my side
The older ones snuggled in, looking sweetly tired
Every chore completed, time for our evening prayer
Sounds of men and horses… shattered the cold night air-

XXX 3 loud knocks

In through the door burst Herod’s men, maybe four or five
With orders to slay every boy under two, to get rid of the Holy Child
One of them grabbed my baby, another drew his sword
One sure stroke! It was over! Our little son was dead!

We stood there for a moment- too stunned to wonder why
Gathered up his tiny form, then the children began to cry
Our baby boy, our only son, limp and lifeless he lay
Oh, the things you remember; he’d cut his first tooth that day!

Cries and screams from other homes began to reach our ears
Much blood was shed in Bethlehem, and many, many tears
But then it seems an angel came, to wipe away our tears
And in their place a living hope that’s lasted through the years
~ ~ ~

Miss our boy? Of course we did! But in Him we’ve so much more
Not only the memory of the honour that they once knocked on our door
But now He’s our Christ, Messiah, our Saviour, our friend
No room in the inn? We welcome Him, our Jesus, to the end!
~ ~ ~

(Reflecting on the fragmented story of the birth of Jesus… As often happens as I am prompted to write, I wonder- who could have been witness enough to join-the-dots? Then the feelings of a woman, stretched to the limit, who dug deep into her resources at hand, to be present with the events as they unfolded, began to rise up in me…
And so this story was written...)
Joan Westaway - (December 1993)







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LIFE...

by Joan Westaway
(Brisbane QLD Australia)

Life…

Awesomeness
Splendid awesomeness
Awakening dreams
From what seems
So far away
Just a step away
Seeing his hand
And
His amazing plans
That he has held all along
Like a lilting song
Awakened
Shaken
From a deep sleep
Bound so long
Cords so strong
Yet the joy seeps out.
The tears leak out
Running down my face
Amazed at his grace
This sweet mercy
This setting free
For his glory
Still yet to be
Through me
I hear him say Come
Come to me
And I come

Joan Westaway © 25/7/2016


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