Exodus 2: 1-15
The Wadlata Outback Centre in Port Augusta is an outstanding place to visit. I spent four incredibly happy years in Port Augusta, and Wadlata was a wonderful place to take visitors. The Sisters of St Joseph have a long history in Port Augusta, and the centre is based around the old Catholic school. The original Josephite community was accompanied by our own Australian Saint, Mother Mary of the Cross Mackillop.
The Wadlata Centre houses an exhibition taking visitors through time in different ways. It looks at time through historic, scientific, and geological time: and through the eyes and stories of our First Nations People. It highlights many of the changes that were initiated by the arrival of our colonial settlers and explorers and notes the many expeditions into the centre of our great land and even efforts to travel from the south to the north of this vast, sunburnt land.
One of the answers sought by the early explorers was to find the vast inland sea that they believed was in the centre of our continent. They firmly believed that the many rivers heading west from the Great Divide had to spill into a vast sea. And so, they set about to follow them and find this inland sea.
One of these early explorers was Charles Sturt.
Sturt and sixteen men left Adelaide on 15 August 1844, with 11 horses, 200 sheep, 32 bullocks, six dogs, and a number of carts and wagons.
And a boat.
Sturt was so convinced of the existence of an Inland Sea he carted and carried that boat. Over hills and mountains, deserts, through dry gullies and parched lands, he dragged and pushed that boat.
Finally, he arrived back in Adelaide, dejected, on January 19, 1846, having found neither the centre of Australia nor an Inland Sea.
A replica of the boat sits in the Wadlata Centre. I looked at the boat and thought to myself, why didn’t he let it go? Why did he let his stubbornness, and long-lost dreams, demand he take that boat long after it was to be of no use to him?
The truth is, some things we have to let go of.
Maybe, like Moses, we fear the follies of our past will one day come back to haunt us. And so we run, all the time, dragging that memory along long after it has shown it has no use and is good for us.
Let it go.
Maybe like Sodom, we think that the sins of our past will stain our future.
All of us have chapters in our life which we would rather have unpublished.
Maybe we have to let go of past failures and mistakes and let them live where they belong, in the past.
Let them go.
The boat of sin and shame we no longer have to drag. We are children of the light.
We must walk toward that light and let the shadows fall where they may.
Peter Gardiner is a Passionist Priest, based in Sydney doing mostly outreach work. He is presently teaching English to our Passionist students in Indonesia.
Peter Gardiner is a Passionist Priest in Sydney. He is primarily involved in outreach ministries.