Propelled into history

In an earlier page I mentioned the VGSS Lady Loch; my great-grandfather John Slater Anderson was among those who designed and built it.

A spare propeller of about three tons weight was cast for the Lady Loch at the time of her construction in 1886. Lady Loch was a 487-ton steam vessel built in Melbourne by Campbell, Sloss & McCann in 1886 for colonial Victoria’s Department of Trade & Customs. She was used by Victoria as a lighthouse tender. With federation, care of lighthouses was transferred to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth bought the vessel and, presumably, the spare propeller. After a chequered history, Lady Loch became a mere hulk and was finally scuttled in Moreton Bay in 1962.

For some years, the propeller was displayed on the street frontage of a government building in Mort Street, Canberra. When the building was demolished and the propeller moved. I wrote to ask of its whereabouts.

Dr Steven Kennedy, PSM, Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development, kindly replied that his department and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority had arranged for the propeller to be displayed in the newly established Seafarers Rest Park in Melbourne. The Park is being developed along the Yarra River in the heart of the city. The propeller is seen above on a truck as it arrived in Melbourne. The park is next to the heritage building of the Mission to Seafarers an active Christian ministry caring for merchant sailors who visit our ports.

mission

Death

“Death is not the extinguishing of the light,
but the blowing out of the candle
because the dawn has come.”
— Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941).

Husband, let me serve you

Brother, husband, let me serve you;
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christlight for you
in the night time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow,
till we’ve seen this journey through

When we sing to God in heaven,
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, husband, let me serve you;
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.
—Richard Gillard

Live longer and prosper

To lengthen our lives we might usually think of trying to increase our years, with good diet, exercise and so forth — all a bit hit-and-miss. A piece in The Book of Life reminds us that our experience of time is subjective. We should seek to "densify" our lives, to enrich our experience rather than trying to postpone death. Children experience a year as a very long time because their experience of everything is so intense and very much of it is new. It has to with novely, The Book of Life contends. "The more our days are filled with new, unpredictable and challenging experiences, the longer they will feel." … By middle age, things can be counted upon to have grown a lot more familiar. We may have flown around the world a few times. We no longer get excited by the idea of eating a pineapple, owning a car or flipping a lightswitch. We know about relationships, earning money and telling others what do. And as a result, time runs away from us without mercy."

The answer is not to try to cram in many expensive novelties, such as much travel to exotic places. Rather, let us take greater notice of things around us.

"We have probably taken a few cursory glances at the miracles of existence that lie to hand and assumed, quite unjustly, that we know all there is to know about them. We’ve imagined we understand the city we live in, the people we interact with and, more or less, the point of it all." In fact we have barely scratched the surface. Time races by because we have not paused to study properly.

Art especially "re-introduces us to ordinary things and reopens our eyes to a latent beauty and interest in precisely those areas we had ceased to bother with. It helps us to recover some of the manic sensitivity we had as newborns." We see Cezanne, "looking closely at apples, as if he had never seen one before," and Van Gogh, "mesmerised by some oranges". Or Albrecht Durer, "looking — as only children usually do — very closely at a clod of earth."

"We don’t need to make art in order to learn the most valuable lesson of artists, which is about noticing properly, living with our eyes open — and thereby, along the way, savouring time. Without any intention to create something that could be put in a gallery, we could — as part of a goal of living more deliberately — take a walk in an unfamiliar part of town, ask an old friend about a side of their life we’d never dared to probe at, lie on our back in the garden and look up at the stars or hold our partner in a way we never tried before. […]

"It is sensible enough to try to live longer lives. But we are working with a false notion of what long really means. We might live to be a thousand years old and still complain that it had all rushed by too fast. We should be aiming to lead lives that feel long because we have managed to imbue them with the right sort of open-hearted appreciation and unsnobbish receptivity, the kind that five-year-olds know naturally how to bring to bear. We need to pause and look at one another’s faces, study the evening sky, wonder at the eddies and colours of the river and dare to ask the kind of questions that open our souls. We don’t need to add years; we need to densify the time we have left by ensuring that every day is lived consciously — and we can do this via a manoeuvre as simple as it is momentous: by starting to notice all that we have as yet only seen."