The Princess huddled down in her coat against the cold air blowing in from the Tasman. She kept a watchful eye on the three children in her care and the bonfire she had lit on the beach, as they let off fireworks to celebrate the eve of the Millenium.
Her sigh was matched by a wave that washed up on the black sand beach. She wished she could relax more, but she could not even drink. There were the children to look after, and she was on standby for the Y2K computer crisis.
There was no friend to keep her company on that special night. She thought of her best friend Nerida, who she recently had a warm and happy reunion with. Nerida had read her letter, called her silly, and immediately re-established contact, but she lived in Auckland which was miles away.
At that moment her son tossed a used firework into the fire. The fire exploded, sending her friend’s daughter and her son shrieking and running backwards. She jumped to catch her daughter as she rolled off the log they had been sitting on. She laughed, and after the momentary excitement was over, kicked sand onto the fire to put it out. It chose that moment to start to rain, so they drove into town to join the street party. When the new millennium counted down her children were too tired to appreciate it. Her first job for the year 2000 was to drop off her friend’s child, head home and get her own children to bed. The King watched her as she tucked them in, but she was too dispirited to reach for Him.
She turned on the TV to watch the celebrations begin in Sydney. Sydney had a special place in her heart; it was a place of refuge and healing. After her brother’s death, she had moved to Australia with her first husband and his family, where the family set up a business in Sydney’s south west. They hated Sydney, moaned about it and compared it constantly with New Zealand. She loved the place and the people. No little parochial country town was this with its small minds and dead end jobs.
Sydney was a vibrant place where there were no limits to what she could achieve. It was the first place where she had ever heard words of praise and affirmation. She came to life, grew in confidence and laughed often. It had been a good life there, and after four years it tore her heart out to have to leave. In leaving she lost her place in the world, her refuge, career, friends, sense of security and belonging. The tears rolled down her face as she remembered how she had been forced to leave Sydney by her husband and in-laws. There had been no choice in the matter.
She lost everything, but her husband was happy. On the day of her return she had walked out of Wellington airport, clutching her bird Tweetie in his cage, her face stricken at being back in New Zealand. It was like a death. Thomas couldn’t bear her sobs and asked her to stop. They drove to her father’s farmlet in Ashurst where her family had gathered to welcome her back. She remembered throwing up the meal she had tried to eat.
After their break-up Thomas casually told her that after her return from Sydney he expected her to go back to her old job in small town New Zealand, a dead-end job in a government department. It had been an abusive, toxic workplace. Before leaving for Sydney she had been trapped there, unable to leave without another job to go to, even though her husband could see how soul destroying the job was. It did not matter, he wanted her pay.
How could she have gone back to a place where she was not respected, after she had achieved so much in Sydney? It would be like an eagle waddling around with turkeys! She had looked at him in shock, stunned to realise how callous he was. Either he had never really cared about her, or she had changed – but he hadn’t.
The Princess reminded herself that things were different now. She was now the one in control of her life, and would soon be returning to Australia where she had been seconded for four months to work on an IT project. She would be working in the same place as Prince Honest, White Flower’s husband. The children were going to spend those four months living with their father and his new wife in Sydney.
Ten days later she looked out the window of the aircraft, happy to be leaving. Below the white slopes of Mount Taranaki gleamed in the morning sun. The King said “I carried you as an eagle carries her young on her wings, and brought you here to me.” Exodus 4
She felt like she was on the wings of that eagle, soaring free in the morning sky, flying back to Australia, the land her heart had never left. Australia del Espiritu Santo – the Great Southland of the Holy Spirit.
She looked at the King and said;
“If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:9-10.