Chat Room

The End of an Era: Chat Room is to close

The Chat Room at 241 Brisbane St, a drop-in centre serving three meals a week, closes down at the end of May 2012. I wrote this poem as an experiment. It contains my reflection on the Chat Room at what that community has shown me.

As background, the smokers at Chat Room could step out the back door, where they overlook the Ipswich Line – a major coal train route to the Port of Brisbane. Looking a little further, the Bremer River, the original transport link with Brisbane for people and coal and other goods, flows.

 

Although the community loses a wonderful asset, there are already plans to provide other new services for the people who come there. This poem is a celebration, not a lament, because the coal trains and the river, and the drugs and the emptiness are still there, and the call, “whom shall I send” remains pregnant in the atmosphere.

My response to that call is documented here: Ipswich Mall Ministry

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Chat Room

 

Coal trains grunting through the night, hauling rich cargo down to the sea.

They groan at night as they haul it through, and come back empty in the day.

The wealth of the land, taken to market. Out of the country, out of our hands.

Streams of wealth go somewhere, but only empty cars return,

going back to the mines, hollow, empty, spent.

 

Meanwhile the heavy laden come to Chat Room, and the smokers look over the Ipswich line.

The weary have come to find rest for their souls, as the coal trains bear their heavy yoke outside.

They’ve been hauling all their treasure to market and out of their hands. They return empty, spent.

They’re hollow and empty, but they’re back for more, straight back for more, all of it going out to sea.

Streams of wealth go somewhere, but we never see it here.

Pit MinersThe river flows alongside the tracks, now it wanders off, now it meanders across the line.

The coal train runs on narrow gauge; purposeful, straight and true.

The river be damned, says the train, “just build a bridge and get over it”.

What comes back up the line is empty, but it’s “back to the mines”, straight back for more, all of it going out to sea.

But the river keeps flowing, never emptied and never rushed, going out of the land, out of our hands.

Construction of the second Indooroopilly Railway Bridge Brisbane May 1895The thirsty come to Chat Room and the smokers look over the Bremer River.

The hungry come in to find food; the river outside yields emptiness.

The river’s polluted; it’s brackish and toxic. It’s yield can’t be eaten; it is only death.

They took coal downriver in the early days, and whole families came back up and settled here.

Now coal goes down the line, and trains bring workers up each night, hollow and spent, empty.

QR CoalThe river is full of needles and junk; speed where there was once meandering, ice where there was life.

The water is toxic.

The thirsty drink their death.

The ice gives no warmth.

The river’s yield is death.

The hungry eat their doom.

The speed hastens the grave.

The grass goes up in smoke leaving emptiness. Nothing.

So much treasure goes down this river, out of the land, out of our hands. It flows into the sea.

Streams of wealth go somewhere, but nothing ever returns to fill the emptiness.

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry,

and whoever believes in me

will never be thirsty.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are those who mourn, 

for they will be comforted.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,

and I will give you rest.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

and do not return to it without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

   It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire

   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

This is what the LORD says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

Railway line in the Ipswich suburb of Gailes. Credit Martin HowardI saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple,

a river that no one could cross. He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,

“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said,

“Here am I. Send me!”


For what happened next, see the “Marketplace Evangelism” category in this blog. You will find the following articles:


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Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? (Jas…

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What is Evangelism? Do you have to do it? Read on... perhaps you already do! Summary: Jesus’ “Great Commission” of Matthew 28:18-20 is,…

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