Paradise

I’m sitting on the Veranda watching the world go by in Paradise!

I wonder where your Paradise might be and for what reason? Recently I was in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia. It is sub-tropical and the weather ranges from hot to hotter and includes for good measure lots of downpours especially in the rainy season. The nearest l have got to a Veranda in the UK has been on a balcony in someone’s flat or whilst holidaying in a room with a balcony and a sea view.

Veranda is a Portuguese word and describes a roofed, open air gallery or porch. The area is partly enclosed by a railing and extends across the front and side of a structure. There are many buildings in Australia and New Zealand that have verandas which came to prominence from the 1850’s. One particular style is known as a ‘Queenslander’ which adapts well to the sub-tropical climate as shown below.

There are many other places throughout the world where buildings have a veranda and before fridges enabled food to be kept cool under the floorboards in the heat of the day.

A lovely experience on a veranda is witnessing the early morning sun rise. The day unfolds with its own ‘time demands’ that will dictate how long we remain sat on the veranda. Meal time and evening gives us a further opportunity to observe the sun setting and feel the cool of the evening.

There is something special about being on our own, having time to eat, sleep, read and reflect. Equally it is wonderful when we have our special friends around us, chatting and having fun and laughter, serious debate and seeking to appreciate another person’s point of view.

Memories can be greeted as a friend or a disturbance of peace. We are taken to our ‘museum of memories’ where we recall happy times, challenging experiences and occasions where we have to place and let go of them so as to move forward in life. However looking back can be helpful as we learn from our mistakes and be thankful for our successes.

January 26 is Australia Day and in all the celebrations there will be the waving of the Australian Coat of Arms. On it are two of Australia’s most iconic animals, the kangaroo and emu.

It is believed the reason why they are included is because they both are unable to walk backwards, signifying Australia’s aspiration and intent as a nation to always move forward. It’s a lovely thought that we all can aspire to, taking those forward steps with our eyes fixed firmly on the future, leaving the past behind and not allowing any negativity to impact our present or future?

There is an interesting statement that reads: ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain.’ (1) We all are in the pursuit of contentment and happiness. Some of us look to material gain and certain experiences that maintain levels of happiness and contentment. Many of us are happy and content in the everyday activities that come our way, from sustaining a personal faith, to collecting the morning paper, taking the dog a walk, or just rocking in our chair on the veranda or balcony.

In Port Douglas there is a historic church called St Mary’s by the Sea.

It is said to be the third most popular church in Australia for getting married in. It is so beautiful and quaint and for those of us married, it would be a very romantic place to reaffirm our marital vows.

I attended the morning service and a time was given when each person introduced themselves and said where they came from. One man stood up and said he lived locally and for him it was Paradise. Straight away a second man, who also lived local, contradicted the first gentleman by saying: ‘No you don’t live in Paradise. Paradise is where you are and what you make of it!’ Whew, I thought the second chap had a good point and pondered on what he had said, albeit in an abrupt manner, and its application.

In Greater Manchester there is a restaurant called Paradise Spice and for some who like spicy food they may feel, in having a meal there, they have experienced a true taste of Paradise. However, for those who do not like spicy food it would have been the furthest place and experience from Paradise! One person’s paradise, happiness and contentment, is not necessarily someone else’s, but we can be grateful for that which affirms our individuality and uniqueness in our own place of Paradise!

If we are in a physical Paradise at the moment but not happy or content then we are not experiencing true Paradise. Conversely if we are in humble and meagre surroundings but feel a true sense of contentment and wellbeing then perhaps Paradise is not too far from us. For those of us with faith we have a promise of an eternal Paradise to come.

Go back to your veranda and balcony, either physically or in your mind’s eye. Appreciate your surroundings and given situation today.

If it’s almost perfect don’t forgot your relationships. Share your good fortune and maintain a personal contentment internally knowing that things can change very quickly. In the tropics the rain falls instantly and violently and can cause severe damage.

If your situation today is somewhat challenging but you have beautiful friendships they can represent your sense of Paradise and wellbeing in your local environment. May you find strength and be sustained within, so as to continually move forward like the Kangaroo and Emu.

Enjoy the moment of today and be thankful for times past, but don’t stare.
Move on, look forward to a future that is yours to have and hold.

Christmas greetings and a peaceful New Year 2018.

Graham

(1) 1 Timothy 6 v 6

For further reading hit the links below for the second edition of my book Blog 51 (October 2020) in black and white or colour

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