Springtime morning steeples ring, The preacher smiles and makes the sign Music plays and singers sing White linen, candles, bread and wine. Up the steps to speak up clear – Speak so strong when he wants to sigh. All look, some listen, none hear He speaks and prays and wonders why.
The sun is up and the air is hot already. We are 160 kilometres from home – time to change drivers. Yumali sits quiet and warm by the highway. I have often travelled this Adelaide – Melbourne road and, thinking back over the last half century or so, I don’t remember Yumali being anything but quiet … but not always this quiet.
The air is beautiful. The quiet is beautiful. The light is beautiful.
The traffic is very light at this hour of the morning, but this stillness serves to make the noise of passing trucks all the more intrusive. Distant magpies carol, singing honeyeaters make the songs singing honeyeaters make, and a very stroppy Willie Wagtail scolds this bald, bearded intruder.
Mrs and Mr Wagtail have claimed the old Yumali hall as their territory. They have a nest secreted away from the world in its dusty eaves.
The hall isn’t really “old” so far as “old” goes. It was built of concrete block work in 1960. Even though this building is nine years younger than I am, it has an older, perhaps “timeless” authority than I could ever manage sitting there by the Sherlock Road intersection with the highway. It looks old with an old kind of charm. It is plain but lovely.
The weathered doors and woodwork make the building look a little bit unloved, but I am sure it is loved. Its silence holds quiet echoes of the life and love it once held and felt. I am sure that life and love lives in the hearts and memories of people living not far from these doors.
And peeking through the gap in the wooden doors, holding my phone camera to the hole, I can see an echo of that life. I can take the photo and keep a wee trace of that lovely echo for myself.
Something in me wants to stay. Part of me wants to keep the silence for my own. Part of me longs to be wrapped in the quiet. Part of me wants to stop in Yumali and love this hall. But we have roads to drive, journeys to make, promises to keep.
Yumali Hall is safe under the gaze of the Willie Wagtails.