Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I gave my Blog page the title "Snow off the Ben" after my (now defunct) Website "Snow on the Ben"

The title "Snow On the Ben" comes from a piece I wrote when I had just moved to Tasmania. It was Christmas eve of 2001 and I was at home all alone feeling a wee bit sad! Dorothy was still living up in Brisbane, having to tie up some loose end before coming to join me in Tasmania.

My heart is in pain. It longs to see my ben, the ben again. It aches to see Ben Lomond with snow on his head in winter, to feel, to smell his cold fresh breath once more. It yearns to sit on one of his shoulders in summer, to hear the little bird that whispers sweet nothings in his ear. O little skylark, your song is music to my ben’s ears. It also soothes my breaking heart.

The pain is chronic; it grumbles on, it rumbles like thunder over the loch, my loch, Loch Lomond. Fish without fins, waves without winds. You are my ben’s mirror. He beholds his face in you. As a child, in summer, I threw stones, ‘skiffers’, at my ben’s looking glass, but the mirror never broke the way my heart is broken. In winter I tried to etch my name with a pair of skates on my ben’s mirror, but it was ben that wrote his name on me. Thank you ben for watching over me in my childhood, my youth, in my Balloch.

The whole Vale looked up to you. You were the toast of the town. Even Munro lifted his glass to you. The sheep kissed your feet. O ben, Ben Lomond, will I ever see you again?

Here I am in the uttermost part of the world. I’ve been placed here to proclaim the Lord’s Gospel. The Lord Himself says: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” Lord, could you not have sent me on home leave to announce the good news? Why did I say to You that I’d go wherever You sent me?

Mind you, the people here are of a noble character, they are fair-minded. They are receiving Your Word with all readiness. Like the Bereans of old, they are searching the Scriptures daily to find out if the things I say about You are so. Some of them lie awake in bed all night, like the red deer ruminating on the slopes of the ben, pondering the things they are hearing. Maybe I do like it here after all!
You have given me a house Lord, a home for my family. You have granted me a view of some of Your handiwork from my window. I see the waters of the Derwent flood Ralph’s Bay. And my eye is drawn to Mount Wellington, ‘Ben’ Wellington, with his ‘pipe-organ’, for he is the centre of the window painting you presented me, Lord. Ah, but alas, my Saviour, you painted in the ben, my ben, didn’t You? He’s there on the right of Your beautiful masterpiece. I look at him and my heart cries for home. Tears run from my eyes like cataracts on my ben. My heart is in the heilins, my heart is not here, my heart is in the heilins, a chasing the deer… Lord, will You put snow on my substitute ben come winter?

I walk through the wood, the ‘bush’ with my other best friend, wee Jamie (Seamus beag). I pretend he’s my faithful deerhound instead of the Sydney Silky terrier that he is. We see rabbits, but they are not Scottish rabbits. Ah, but perhaps their ancestors are! I pretend they are highland rabbits just the same. I make believe the bounding kangaroos are deer. The big ones are red deer, the wallabies are roe. Lord, I suppose I can learn to love them too!

I catch a glimpse of a startled turkey-looking bird, wings on full gallop, trying to outfly a false alarm of danger. It’s only me! Lord, I declare him to be capercailzie! And what is that twittering sound hanging in the air? Lord, have you sent the skylark to play upon my heartstrings? He sounds like he is plucking all the high notes on the harp, the ‘tree of music’. However, Lord, the grass is not green like Scottish grass; it has withered for want of refreshment. Yet there I see a beauty, Your beauty, as it gives me a friendly wave. Will You be pleased to send seasons of refreshing to this land?

But Lord, I have been absent from my beloved over long. And there is a hoary frost forming on my head. But Lord, will I see snow on the ben, my new ben, this coming winter? Will he frost my windows with his breath? Breathe on me, breath of God; fill me with life anew… Will he whistle for me to bundle up and come out to play? Will he really be as good a friend to me as my old ben? Awake, O north wind, and come, O south! Blow upon my garden, that its spices may flow out. And will my new ben watch over me like my old ben? For I to the hills will lift mine eyes, from whence doth come mine aid. My safety cometh from the Lord, who heav’n and earth hath made.

O Lord, tell me why You have brought me to Tasmania. What is Your answer? All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord is upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of the Lord stands forever. O Zion, you who bring good tidings, get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, you who bring good tidings, lift up your voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God’.

Thank You Lord. May my love for You and my neighbour be as deep as the snow on the ben!

("SNOW ON THE BEN" is included in my paperback book "The Song of Creation & Other Contemplations")

E-book version at Aamazon:

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