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  • Samantha Wortelhock

Let The Mystery Be


I didn’t know what to write for this week’s blog. I’d painted a mural for Park Lake State School. It is a little beauty with something a bit different. The librarian, Marcia, wanted characters chosen by her pupils in a landscape of my choosing. The children were so grateful, more than I’ve ever experienced. The school is a happy place. It’s in the Gold Coast but it felt contained, healthy, almost village-like and we all know what it takes to raise a child.

But I had no words for the blog until a chance meeting today and a loss felt deeply by my partner.

I’m usually early for a meeting and in this space of silent waiting outside Wardell Public School, I received a text from Digby telling me how sad he was to hear that a young woman he has never met but with whom he had shared a personal dance with cancer, had died. He had anticipated this moment the night before in bed with me. But the fact of it erupted his dormant emotions.

Mystery keeps us feeling vital. We have lost the magic of discovery. Everything is so exposed these days. Sex has lost its mystery because it’s so in our face and vanity has eclipsed beauty. Death appears to be the only part of life we can’t dissect or fathom.

Oh! And chance. Occasionally we give peace a chance but we don’t often give chance a chance.

So this morning, after two rare days off, I arrived at Wardell Public School. The P&C representative is a woman I first met maybe five years ago. Kirsty was a participant in a program I ran. She picked up the baton then and ran with it and I knew that our paths would cross once again.

We sat in the school grounds and discussed the mural. Two women joined us. Fiona and Tania talked history, both pre- and post-European settlement and the significance of both to the content of the mural.

The conversation came from the heart. Tania has lived her whole life in Wardell. She is on a mission to ‘green up’ the school’s gardens and she is doing a great job. Big Scrub species are popping up all over the place, as are spaces for peace and contemplation. She sent me on a journey to see the physical evidence of her stories.

My first stop was the wharf. There, fishing, was an Aboriginal man called Brian. He is the sole reason why I have been able to put pen to paper today; he and the loss of Digby’s friend, Nadsy Nay Nay.

Brian was shy at first. I introduced myself and told him why I was there. He opened like a flower. Slowly at first but when the light shone he spread his petals wide and we talked. His father was born on Cabbage Tree Island, a place very dear to my heart. He is related to Auntie Nita Roberts, an Elder who believes in my work. He told me stories of the river, how the mullet used to run and how the Aboriginal families would shine lights in to the water, splash the oars like insects on the surface and the mullet would jump straight into the boat. No hook, no line, no waste, no damage.

He told me it was a rare day off for him. He hadn’t planned to be at the wharf til that morning.

He told me that our shared time was reason enough.

I walked away thinking that we don’t need to see the light. We just need to trust in it for it to turn on.

#ParkLaneStateSchool #GoldCoast #chancemeeting #WardellPublicSchool #BigScrubspecies #Aboriginalman #CabbageTreeIsland #AuntieNitaRoberts #storiesoftheriver #mulletcatching