Since I have been home, I have been thinking more about Australia. People keep asking me what I thought of Australia. Of course, I was only in Sydney and was very involved in WYD activities most of the time. Yet I did take some impressions of Australia itself. Mainly these came from my early morning walks on the beach. You may remember that our group was staying at a surfers' hostel on Bondi Beach. I was determined to get some beach time each day, even if the sun wasn't quite up and the air was chilly. I wasn't the only one! Even before dawn, there would be quite a number of runners and walkers, with and without dogs, groups of people working out with a trainer, even with weights, swimmers in a neat pool that was right on the edge of the surf, and surfers. It was very energizing. I was particularly interested in the surfers. They were in wet suits and would come trotting down to the beach carrying their boards. This was uniform behavior. They did not walk; they trotted. Maybe it was because their feet were cold, but I think it is part of the surfer ethos at Bondi.
When I returned home, one of my questioners about Australia is a native of Southern California and a surfer himself. I asked him about the trotting surfers. Do California surfers also trot? He said that they certainly do not. Trotting is not cool. But the Australians to a man trotted. They were eager and not cool. This became a symbol of Australia for me. It is a zesty place. I could not help but like it. I saw the same behavior my last day doing a little shopping in downtown Sydney. It is zesty. I think that Australians are fun and excited.
This insight made me reflect on the parable of the unjust steward, whom the Lord praises for being so ingenious about taking care of himself in a worldly way. Would that the children of light were so ingenious about eternal things! The trotting surfers became a rebuke and an inspiration for me. If theses fellows could be so happy and zesty about a few cold minutes in the surf before going to work, where is my zest for the Kingdom! This Australian zest turned to Jesus Christ could be awesome. Cardinal Pell is a good example of that. It all brought back to me the motto of my high school: "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." Enjoy Him!
I think that Americans generally would do well to look to Australia and perhaps see a younger version of themselves. As for the Church, I was inspired by the zest of Australia! Let's get trotting!