Much has happened since I wrote this post in May 2019:
AFTER TWO STINTS as a social worker based in Charleville and doing outreach work in the towns roundabout—Quilpie, Augathella, Morven, Cunnamulla, Eulo, Yowah and Thargomindah—I have developed a love for Outback Queensland, the place and her people.
I first moved to Charleville in 2005, stayed for about two years before returning to Brisbane where I retired in 2009. Retirement did not suit me and I moved back to Charleville in 2014 where I worked for another two years before again attempting to retire. On both occasions personal circumstances prompted my return to the city. In 2018 I returned to the Outback for a month’s holiday, staying with friends in Quilpie and Charleville. I was genuinely surprised to be told by many people how much I had been missed, how much I had been appreciated in the work I had done. However, I wasn’t ready to hear what they were saying.
Now, having returned from another stay in the Outback, I’ve got it! I understand and truly believe that those wonderful people in both Quilpie and Charleville mean what they say when they tell me that I really was valued, that I had left a hole in their communities. It is very humbling to hear their words, and to know that I did make a difference. This time I also finally accepted that my heart is in the bush, and that is where I long to be.
When I was in the Outback I felt valued, wanted, needed, accepted, loved and appreciated. I felt so alive and invigorated, happy and so very content. When people hugged me it was not just embracing me physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well–healing hugs that touched me…body, soul and spirit. Over and over again I was wrapped up in love, and it was so precious. Out there I felt even closer to my God than I do near the city.
The people were genuine in their love and acceptance of me, just as they were in the way they lived. They are courageous, brave, resilient, generous in their hospitality. They appreciated my presence, for my simply being me, and for the genuine love, warmth and acceptance I had for them. They appreciated my support and encouragement just as I was grateful for theirs.
At last I have found where I belong; I had come home. I did not want to leave.
My return was not pleasant, a sharp reminder that here in my beautiful over-50s active lifestyle resort life is very superficial, very artificial and quite meaningless. One of my lovely Charleville friends told me that when she reads about such resorts they seem to be providing activities that simply fill up time, rather than provide purpose and meaning to one’s life. She is so right.
The outcome of this time in Charleville is that, having finally accepted how much I love the Outback and how it has captivated my heart–and how much people would love me to stay–I need to return. Plans are in place with that in mind and I look forward to what lies ahead.
While I was in Charleville I asked God what he desired of me. His response was simple. On my return to Brisbane I again asked what he required of me. His response was the same:
He has shown you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).
As I work through the issues to be addressed as I plan further trips to the Outback, I do so with the desire to follow my Lord and Master and to do as he directs: To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God. In the process of doing that I am also reminded of his admonition that we are to love one another, just as he has loved each one of us and has given his life for us.
I love the Lord with all my heart, soul and being. And I am grateful for yet another opportunity to live for him and to go about his business in the way he directs. What a privilege—my joy and my very great delight.