Goldfields God-Talk: Pipeline
by The Reverend Elizabeth J Smith | Senior Mission Priest, Parish of The Goldfields
It follows the highway all the way from Mundaring Weir. It cuts a straight line across the changing landscape until it fills a reservoir on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie. It is watched closely for leaks, and pump stations push the flow along to our inland towns. It’s CY O’Connor’s engineering wonder of a pipeline, and without it the Goldfields would be thirsty indeed.
Stories of what life was like before the pipeline feature laboriously desalinated drinking water that cost nearly as much as beer. Public health suffered from non-existent drainage, and we shudder to imagine what personal hygiene must have been like when water was too precious to be used for washing.
Today, thanks to the pipeline, top-quality water from Perth’s supply travels for a week or so before arriving in the Goldfields for domestic and industrial use. I need it for drinking and washing, for the aircon in summer (the overflow goes onto the grass), and to keep alive the kitchen herbs I grow in pots. I hate putting good drinking water onto the garden when it has come so far, so I have killed off some English cottage plants and replaced them with local shrubs that, once established, survive on what the occasional thunderstorm sends down.
Grace does not flow by the same over-sized channels as water does, on its way to us in the Goldfields. But there are some marvels of spiritual engineering, saving us from drying out in heart and soul. By the risen life of Jesus Christ, and by the flow of the Spirit, God pumps unlimited, life-giving grace across the landscape of our lives.
Often, that grace reaches us through physical things. Church buildings, at their best, are reservoirs holding stores of blessing and forgiveness in abundance for all comers to draw on. St John’s Kalgoorlie, the “old cathedral” of what was once a diocese, is open every day. The structure is shabby and in need of expensive restoration, but it still holds peace and prayer for spiritually thirsty locals. Baptism and the Eucharist, celebrated with faith, never fail to deliver overflowing grace.
Faith-founded organisations also channel grace to at-risk areas of Australian society. Anglicare and Amana Living, our Anglican caring agencies, are just such life-changing pipelines, reaching far beyond suburbia to the Goldfields. Amana Living’s staff bring astonishing tenderness to their care of older people. Anglicare’s programmes guide vulnerable people and families from surviving to thriving, with skill and perseverance that overcome many kinds of disadvantage. They are pipelines for refreshment and hope, shaped by the Anglican commitment to serving people in need.
So I am grateful for what we have built to ensure that God’s grace reaches those who need it. I am even more grateful that God always overflows those visible channels of our construction. There are also thunderstorms of goodness, steady showers of blessing, downpours of providence, direct from heaven to us. I turn my face to the God who quenches my thirst by so many means.