45. Forget all your troubles - downtown.
I arrived with time to spare at Wesley College on High Street Road, Glen Waverley. It was raining, which wasn’t a surprise for Melbourne in the middle of winter. I felt a little alien amongst the throng of young people, some of whom were still finishing their evening meal. For a moment I thought I arrived at a different function. I asked a young man. He confirmed this was the Dangerous Stories Conference and told me it was free entry.
But I saw a registration desk and ended up paying the $ 10 entrance fee. (Sometimes it doesn’t pay to see things; it costs). If I would hear a good talk on the subject - Can someone do crazy things and claim, God told them to do it? - then the money was worth it.
When Isobel and I discuss this issue, very frequently, I ask her to picture Abraham, taking his son Isaac away camping. His wife Sarah might have asked: Where are you taking our boy? When are you coming back? Had Abraham told her openly that he thought God told him to kill him on a mountaintop, she may have called the Mental Emergency Team.
But that’s how it was. God is the same today as he was forever. One can have such a close relationship with HIM that one can say: “God wants me to do this and this”. The general church community is unfortunately more worried about being attractive to the world. This may attract those looking for entertainment. But will they find God, the whispering voice that convicts of sin, that says I love you, come to me with your burden. Ask of me.
An on-fire Christian shouting that he must rush off to Melbourne, because God told him so, is immediately associated with fanaticism, fundamentalism or another isms. Before condemning people, let's listen, let's observe, let's test the Spirit that is in the man. Nobody knows the Spirit of a man (or woman) except the Spirit that is in him or her. To say, God told me ... must never be used to have your own way. One of the most basic Christian principles is to lay down your wants and wishes in preference to the good of another.
There were approx. 300 or so delegates present, among them visitors from all states of Australia and some from overseas. The hall was nearly full, but a few empty seats toward the front. I chose to sit next to a young couple, Janet and Nick (or Mick) from Newcastle, a large industrial city north of Sydney.
The main speaker didn't address my burning question specifically. His main thrust, as I remember it, was on established traditions the church has gotten into. Did God really tell us to have communion with a sliced piece of white bread and calling it a feast? The speaker, who is internationally renowned, and also a lecturer in a biblical College, would have received high marks in a Toastmaster's Club with his presentation and humour.
I agreed in most areas, except one. The use of bad language I thought was inappropriate and not something I was used to, especially after having travelled nearly 1000 kilometer and paid an entrance fee to hear him speak. (He used a word starting with a, what a traditional Baptist would call bottom).
I couldn’t work out, where the theme ‘dangerous stories’ came into the picture. It may have been more dominant in the day sessions. The closest code, if indeed it was a code, was printed at the back of the T-shirt of the person sitting in the chair in front of me. I couldn’t help reading it – Surf & Earth Accessories.
My Da Ninci brain insert a T into accessories to arrive at ‘acces stories’. Even when writing my diary later did I not see the other, possible hidden, meaning, until now. It came to me as I looked at the words Surf & Earth – Can you see – ‘us fear t’ ? There could have been a messenger sitting right in front of me all night, trying to tell me that they are accessing my (dangerous) stories and fear the cross? Far fetched, perhaps?
Like some others, I left a little early, but after the main speaker had finished. I hadn't phoned ahead to the Caravan Park and feared the reception may shut for the night. It was raining, a little heavier than before, but I found Wantira Park (I liked the first 3 letters) in 10 minutes or less.
The reception was locked. I contemplated raising the caretakers, but since I had not phoned, I felt a little apprehensive to do it. Luckily, the entrance to the park was open, so I entered, intending to pay the fee the next morning.
I drove down the gently sloping main lane, looking for flat ground. After a few hundred meters or so it flattened out a little. I turned right and parked beside a grassy area, outside a lit up building, which I thought were toilets. It was the laundry, but a door was open around the side, which was a single toilet. (Later I realized, it may have belonged to the trailer home beside, but it was unlocked, so I was OK for the night).
Ah, I don’t think I told you. The seats in my tiny Suzuki fold in a way that I only needed to blow up an airbed to create an instant motel room, almost. I spent a most comfortable night, snug in my feather down sleeping bag. The rain wasn’t heavy and it wasn’t very cold.
The next morning there was no email to check, paper to read, wife to … tease, chair to kneel on and pray (that’s what I missed the most, what did you think?). It was a rare luxury, staying in bed, listening to Makka on the radio, uninterrupted and the dishes all done. The windows were fogged up; nobody bothered me.
Eventually, without having to open the car door, I had gotten myself dressed and drove up to the reception around 8.45 am or so. I explained that I had spend the night in my vehicle and wanted to pay for it, only to be told, in Victoria it is illegal to sleep in your vehicle. “Even in a Caravan Park?” I questioned.
Apparently, this was so. (There is a rumour of another funny law over there. After someone sneezes, you can't just say "bless you". You have to be specific, which God should be blessing that person. It will finally become law on April 1 and only in Victoria).
The lady was going to let me go without charge. But I insisted on paying ten dollars. I didn't want to leave the impression I was after a free night.
Two things happened that morning, both of which could be classed equally as madness or magic. It almost send me crazy. But I had learned to trust in the ONE, who was behind it all and HE promised to have it ‘all in HIS hand”. (On our ABC, broadcasting the BBC’s Songs of Praise, they sang 'He's got the whole world in His hand' just a moment ago). I just observed and stood back in awe, to marvel at the works of HIS hands.
At the reception, while waiting to be served, I casually looked at a map of the park. It was easy to find the spot where I had spent the night at, because the laundry was clearly marked. Each road inside the park had been given a name. I read the name of the lane I had parked in - ‘Five Crown Lane’.
On the return journey from Melbourne I saw this road sign. A Koala bear with a 'crown' on it's head. Some prankster attached a label. I had to turn the car around and take the shot. At the time I didn't associate it with my stay in Five Crown Lane. Now I wonder.
(My apologies for the quality of the picture).
Had I phoned ahead from the Crown (!!?!!) Casino to say I was coming, (and intended to sleep in my car) I would have missed out on such fun. I would have been forced to spent the night in an average Motel, probably with an even more average street name! And the moral of the story - All things work together for good, if we let the Master-planner have HIS way. Five-star-accommodation in Downtown Melbourne couldn’t have made me any happier that morning.
The other bombshell took place some kilometers away, off the Coast of Victoria. It was reported that part of a famous landmark on the ‘Great Ocean Road’, a well know tourist attraction, had collapsed. It was not by accident. A natural phenomenon had taken place, which the Advertiser newspaper printed on page 7 (very fittingly) on Monday July 4th.
Extracts from the Adelaide Advertiser July 4th, 05, P 7.
When I first heard it on the radio, I didn’t think much of it. It came later, as I pondered the co-incidental timing. The full impact only hit home the following Tuesday, back in Adelaide. Radio news reports about this natural collapse also mentioned that it had been 15 years (on 15.1.90), since another landmark nearby, the ‘London Bridge’, came down with a mighty crash.
For a time after hearing this latest collapse, I believed that our family had taken a holiday around that time in the same area. (This would have been a co-incident). But I checked my diaries; in January 90 we were on holidays in Northern New South Wales. We had travelled via Canberra on the return, but not via Melbourne or on the Great Ocean Road.
Two discoveries later, when I read the account in the newspapers, raised my excitement again a little. The Twelve Apostles, despite their name, only consisted of nine huge rocks. Until the morning of Sunday 3/7/05. The one that collapsed was number Nine.
Secondly, you may recall I had written, how I made up my mind at the last minute to travel to Melbourne? This gave me time to upload Chapter 40 of this story – on Friday July 1, 05. On the web page you will find a photo of my wife and I and this comment under my picture:
Isobel and Dieter (left) during an autumn drive into the nearby Adelaide Hills. We visited an Open Garden, organised by Radio 5 AN 891.
There were 12 trees in the group I am standing in front of. One looked almost dead, compared to the other healthy ones. I commented to the owner: "These must be the 12 Apostles and this one (pointing to the dead tree) is Judas".
Friends, you make call this what you like – I see God at work.
On exiting the caravan park I waved to a group of people. Almost all ladies were dressed in telstra-phone-card-petal pink, waiting to be picked up. That night I used a public phone and phoned home. I found a 5 Dollar Telstra (same petal-pink) phone card in a phone box. I had noticed an increase in children and ladies (and men!) wearing pink. Why not?
On my return to Adelaide I couldn't help taking this shot. Seven pink balloon were worth the interruption. And the street name Sayers Road, sayers it all.
As I departed I reflected - I had just spent a wonderful night, sleeping-in for the first time in years and - it was all illegal from the start.
Later, back in Adelaide I stirred the pot. I would understand this law, if it was specifically aimed at those sleeping in cars near beaches or in public parks. Isn't this what Caravan Parks are for, to not have to overnight in public places?
I emailed the Royal Automobile Club and asked them: “On the way over from Adelaide I noticed numerous signs, telling me to have a Powernap, a 15 minute sleep, which could save my life. If I did that at 1am and fell asleep until 5 am, would I be breaking the law?
(I'm still waiting for an answer).
My plan for the day in Melbourne was not to return to the Conference, but to visit a church, about 30 kilometers to the South. I had read about this church service, while searching for a place to attend somewhere that morning. Something inside seemed to affirm that this is where I ought to go, despite the distance to travel.
The suburb was Cranbourne. On the way I passed the entrance to Sandown Raceway as well as a F1 Motel. I was on Memory Lane and didn’t know it. (The real surprise came the next day in ‘Downtown” Melbourne).
I love going to church services in a different place. There is something fresh about it. And usually when taking up the offering, the leader says - visitors don’t have to put money into the plate. I liked that, but it really isn’t necessary. (What if Bill Gates was in your congregation – would you like him to push his wheelbarrow of cash home again?)
Some of the singing brought tears to my eyes. Certain songs just do. In those moments I reflect on the tragedy of it all - a world wrapped up in their own world, no room for God. Those who care about HIM are ridiculed or even worse, persecuted or killed. But God has the final say; those who believe in HIM have nothing to fear. Our task is to trust in HIM more and more, day by day. HE will make all things beautiful in HIS time.
After church I was going to have a look at a local landmark, a display of meteorites, which were found in the area. I went the wrong way. I changed plans, when I saw a sign to the Botanical Gardens. I enjoyed a wonderful short walk in the bush setting. Large sections had been burned in a fire not long ago. It gave me, or any visitor who observes and thinks, a good illustration of the difference between something alive and dead. The short walk I took was named ‘Manna’ walk. My diary says – Now I see it – A n man. I must have translated Manna into Da Ninci as I made my entries that evening.
Now as I am writing this I can see more, how incredible. The address in my diary is only recorded as 1000 B…… I must have forgotten the street. Mr. Google just told me it is Bellarto Street. Friends, this is awesome, because I honestly only got to the place, because I went in the wrong direction to look for the meteorites.
When I got back to the car, I read the registration plate parked beside me …OT 501. On the way through the centre of town, still looking for the meteorites display, I decided to go to a supermarket and buy some food and drink. On a wall I noticed a small advertisement for a Sunday afternoon of melodies. I had seen the identical poster outside the hall, where I had attended church that morning, but it had not registered. The time was 1.45 pm, starting time was 2pm. The meteorites have to wait. They have been there a long time and won't run away now.
Within 10 minutes I was seated very near the seat I had been during the church service in the morning. The entertaining man, an Elvis impersonator, originally from Sri Lanka, did more than sing Elvis songs. He gave the a clear witness to the side of Elvis, not many people know about, the devout, caring Christian. A German lady Ruth sat beside me. She treated me like a friend she had known for years. Her neighbour, sitting a few rows away, made fun of her, because she sat with me.
Those who think Devonshire tea is tea from Devon thought like I did for 20 years, after migrating. Devonshire tea is simply tea, served with scones, jam and cream.
Who made the mistake in printing the tickets?
As soon as the entertainer, his surname was James, started his first song ‘Welcome to my world’ I thought - WOW, another fan? The rest of the concert, which was to raise funds for the local School-Chaplain program, was equally entertaining and blessed. I had trouble, as I did in the morning, to hide the tears. How incredible, how God lead me here, nearly 1000 kilometers away from home, to get such a blessing, all for ten bucks, which included tea and scones afterwards.
On my way out of town towards Melbourne I had already forgotten the meteorites. I decided to not bother; it was getting late, towards 4 pm, and I wanted to book into a Motel early. Then I saw a funny structure to my left as I drove by, followed by the name Camm Street. It took a few seconds before I gave in. OK, why not? I turned left at the next street, drove around the block to view the rocks, which had fallen from heaven. They were still there.
Now I get it – Of course! If you wanted to create the word Came, you would need to swap the M with E. Is there a subtle message as to who came from outer space? Not - ME?
Hey, something else now makes sense. As I drove away, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a street light lit up on its own, by mistake. It was right above a distance to Melbourne sign – M 45! Whoever did this, did not know that this story would be written here – in Chapter 45 of my autobiography!
Only God knew that – HE writes this script. If I keep finding things like this, there will be no end to it. It all ties in with Cranbourne – See an N born. Oh, Da Ninci, what have you done!
As my Suzuki drove through St. Kilda I saw a sign for a Motel and liked the name. It started with ALL. It was close to the all facilities. Not that I bothered with that, I was more amused about the Nursing Home right across the road. It was called Acland, on the corner of Acland Street. I see!
I didn't feel guilty spending money on a motel, since I was forced to by Victorian law. My darling wife wouldn’t want me to break the law again and sleep in my car.
(Excuse me, I have to sneeze ... Oooochie! And everybody from Victoria said: "Jehovah bless you!" Thank you, and you too).
On arriving outside the Motel, I remember clearly, a 4-WD vehicle, was just pulling out as I was arriving. The rego was ... 963. I really believed, somebody was making sure, I would arrive there safely (it was dark, when I arrived). All I can say, God guided me there.
The magic continued. I was allocated room number 7. In the shower I found a saver (sorry, shaver). The brand was Gillette. Was this a kind of greeting? Did someone understand my code and knows about my L’s and crosses? There were coffee making facilities in the room, but no sugar! Another message? Oh, sh..sh..sugar!
That evening I searched out a large Assemblies of God Church in Richmond. When I finally found it, the service had just finished. The evening services started early in Winter. I still parked the car and browsed in the bookshop. That’s when I saw and purchased a copy of the 40-year-anniversary edition of Everyday with Jesus.
Before returning home the next morning I decided to walk down memory lane in Melbourne. I knew the approximate location of the bookshop, where on the last day of March 03 I had had a stirring encounter with a famous ex-Olympian. The next day I was off to Southern California.
As I drove the 6 kilometers into downtown Melbourne I was listening to a radio station, which played music for my age group. And I liked the name 'Magic' and the frequency on the AM dial - 693. St. Kilda Road was busy, but I loved the bustle and the traffic. Then I heard the song 'Downtown'. Amazing!
I turned the volume up a little. This 693 Radio Magic was magic radio. Would someone really be waiting for me downtown'? Would someone be there to understand me, the weird mind full of 9s, 6s, 3' and all the rest? But I wouldn't need to forget all my troubles, downtown. Don't call my dilemma troubles.
Likewise, the very next song on the station linked incredibly, and perfectly, to the next scene in my 2003 script (the flight to LA). The song was: 'It never rains in Southern California'. If anyone saw me break the road rules that morning, as I laughed out loud, I was not high on drugs, just high on music, perfect music to my ears. (Thanks guys, loved it!)
After a little up and down downtown Melbourne I found the bookshop, plus a parking space right opposite, almost. I only paid a brief visit to browse the biography section. It certainly brought memories of strong emotions. (By co-incidence, the very same athlete I am referring to was featured that same weekend in the Weekend Australian Magazine, a popular read, with Australia-wide distribution).
My final stop down Memory Lane was almost like a grand finale to an incredible play. If I was to get a message I got it OK. I would have had to be blind to not see it. It all must have been planned by an intelligent mind. But how did that being, whoever it was, know I would be walking right into this screenplay?
After less than 10 minutes at the bookshop, I turned right and drove south on Elizabeth Street, the facade of Flinders Street Station in the background. As soon as I saw the familiar red sign of the Flight Centre I looked for a parking space. There was one right there, just for me to pull in. I parked in bay number 3. Car rego …035 parked right behind.
In 2003 the surname of a staff member at this Flight Centre Office was identical to that of a driving instructor back in Adelaide, who had become a Member of Parliament. I took this co-incidence as a sign from God that I was to fly to the US, which I did back then.
As I was trying to pay the parking fee, the meter did not accept my coins. I tired again without success. I looked for a phone number to ring, found it and memorized it. Actually, there was nothing to memorize - it was pure Da Ninci - apart from a few zeroes it started with 135 and ended in 513.
There was a phone box a few steps away, which I used, to report the fault. The girl at the other end of the phone asked for details about my vehicle etc, and for the number of the broken parking apparatus. (It wasn't a single parking meter). I put the phone down to look for a serial number. Another man already was looking at the situation. Talking into a mobile I think he also was reporting the same fault.
“What’s the serial number?” I asked him. He read it for me, JE 1! (I also read it with my own eyes).
At that point I knew, there was a script, some players and I was the fill in. I had arrived at the right place. Now I saw why the plan changed from bicycle to car. It made sense. I would have missed out on a lot of fun.
I walked into the Flight Centre. You could almost say it was only symbolically. I mentioned the name of the attendant from 2 years earlier. She had been transferred to another Branch. In a way I was glad. What if she knew all about me? But then again, that would be my own fault, telling everybody everything online.
Moments after visiting the flight centre I was handed this free magazine outside Flinders Street Station. The title page read: rethinking Ireland. Or was it simply re: thinking?
One last hint that an intelligent planner was behind my Melbourne excursion came at Federation Square. As I crossed at the traffic lights, a man’s face caught my eye just for a moment. I recognized him, but was not sure, if he was the one. I turned back a few steps and asked him: “Excuse me, are you from Adelaide?" He was. We used to work together at the MAC (not the real name), where I had been a driving instructor and he worked in the Administration.
His wife was with him. They had been visiting friends here.
We chatted only until the lights changed to green. Later I contemplated his name. Why do I always look at names in my Da Ninci code? It’s not an obsession, just a game I play. But it is also serious, deadly serious, for those who see the big picture.
I read his name – ‘Re why cross – books’.
Instead of returning straight home to Adelaide, I wanted to thank a person for having my son stay with them for a week, during a student exchange program. This took me home via Geelong, a large industrial city, approx. 80 kilometers west of Melbourne on the shore of Port Phillip Bay. I stopped near the Wharf, after having dropping off my thank-you bar of chocolate en-route. I brewed a coffee, ate whatever food was left and was gone again in 25 minutes.
I went back through the centre of town and was thinking to myself - nothing unusual was happening here, nothing to observe and make magic with. In a way that was unusual. But I was glad in a way; it meant less 'work' to be done. My observing mind had to do a lot of thinking, memorizing, recording and finally blogging. It was tiring. But I had spoken to soon.
Normally I have a good sense of direction, but on leaving the center of Geelong, I became lost, temporarily disorientated. I followed a main road, which I thought would bring me onto the Ballarat Road. As I tried to wind my way through the suburban streets, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a group of people. The were just standing in a driveway, near the open door of a grey building. Another quick look in passing revealed it was or had been a church.
On the side in large letters were written the 'Ten Commandments' and 'John 3,16', famous passages from the bible.
When I say large letters I mean it. My Suzuki did a U-Turn. I parked the car and walked up the driveway. A sign read AA. I figured I had walked into a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, which had just finished.
I asked somebody how to get to the road to Ballarat. Another man gave directions, waving his arms here and there. An older man, with an accent, asked: "Have you got seat in your car, I go that way. It saves me walking?" "No problem, are you ready to go?"
As we turned to walk out the driveway a vehicle entered. My diary does not say what type it was, only that the rego plate was green. (I think from memory, it was a Ford). It all went so fast. I could not help looking at the rego number. It read ..FI 316 (my diary has a question mark behind the two letters. But the number 316 I was sure about. I had come to the right place.
An extract from my diary for July 4th, 05. I had written diaries since 1966. In old age, if I get that far, I don't think I will ever be bored. I can always pick up an old diary and read to the grandkids about all the silly things I did. - "This is where I picked up an old sock ... It had a hole in it... Then I saw a can, it had Sunkist written on it ..."
My passenger had not had a drink (Alcohol) for 26 years. The drink broke up his marriage. He was Russian. I would have loved to just sit and talk about his life's experiences. I love talking to migrants. I bet he had some stories, especially if he was the kind who writes a diary. His name was Eugene. Oh!
It could be a co-incidence. But the name of the self-confessed hit-run driver, the one the Kapunda Royal Commission was all about, was named Eugene. Interesting!
Eugene left after I pulled into a Petrol Station to fill up for the trip home. I should not have been too quick in saying, nothing unusual happened in Geelong.
One diary entry sums up my whole trip to Melbourne: This was no co-incidence. People will know that nothing is too hard for God!
End of Part 3 - Part 4: Candle and the Wind