From the Chaplain - May 2019

From the Chaplain - May 2019

From the Chaplain – May 2019

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I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you

And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

The colours of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by

I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself what a wonderful world

In the first week of the school holidays I was in Adelaide and so on the Sunday I went to St Peter’s Cathedral and heard the Dean preach on the song, “What a wonderful world”. This gave me inspiration for the first Chapel Service of the term, on the Friday after ANZAC Day, and thought it was appropriate to think how wonderful life really is. But to do that properly, this very short song should be put into its historical perspective.

It was written and sung at a time of great social change throughout the Western world. In the 1960s, America was going through the throes of the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War was raging, there were riots, demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience throughout Europe and even Australia was not untouched by this social and political turmoil. It was a time of great change and dislocation and then this little song was written. It might seem rather naïve and Louis Armstrong was criticised for singing it because it seemed not to support the Civil Rights Movement and to ignore all the racism in American society. Yet, if one analyses the poem, it tackles the problem of racism head on and gives an ideal of what life should be. Thus, the usual idea of dividing people by their colour is reversed and different colours are brought together not only in the word “rainbow”, but in the song’s evocative description of the natural world.

The every day gesture of shaking hands becomes a symbol not just of peace, but of love. Then it ends with the affirmation that there is hope; and change which will be brought about by the next generation. So, it is a song of hope and idealism. Yes, this is simply put, but nevertheless profound.

There are echoes here of the Genesis story of creation and God’s recognition that his creative work was good. It also has a certain reference to Jesus who in Luke 6:32-36 said: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” If we all did that what a wonderful world it would be. Oh yeah!

Fr Patrick Duckworth
School Chaplain

Love, Compassion, Forgiveness, Hope, Grace