I praise you, God of creation's joy, for this town where I have stayed the last five weekends. I praise you for the beaches and the headlands and the sea. I praise you for the house where we stayed and were happy together. I praise you for the kitchen and the table and the chairs, and I praise you for the trampoline and the swimming pool where the water dragons sunbaked, terrorising my children. I praise you for the chooks and for the eggs they laid for us, and I praise you for the outdoor pizza oven and for the mushrooms that tasted so smoky when we cooked them.
I praise you for sunrise at the beach (or just-after-sunrise: for we always slept, I praise you, longer than we'd planned). I praise you for the meal of fish and chips that we ate from paper trays while the sun was going down. I praise you for the seagulls that smile indignantly because we will not give them any chips, and I praise you for the pelican that drifts on the water like a fishing trawler and then heaves itself into the air like a 747, fat and majestic, wonderful to see.
I praise you for the girls in summer dresses on the street, for the girls basking nearly naked on the sand, for the young men playing volleyball and running with their shirts off to show the world that they are young and strong, and I praise you for the old men in swimming caps who go down into the water even when it is very cold, and for the old women who walk their dogs and stop to greet one another beside the sea.
I praise you for the surfers and the kayakers and the stand-up paddlers, and I praise you for all the boats and for all who love boats and who go out on the water, and I praise you for the man who had built his own houseboat and told me gently with a sunburnt voice, 'You have time for things on the water.'
I praise you for the wide flat rocks where my children roamed at low tide. I praise you for my son who licked the glistening dry salt off the rock and said it tasted good. I praise you for my daughters' glee and horror when they found a crab in the little pool. I praise you for the terrible high rocks where we saw the teenagers playing, lying facedown while the waves swept over them (and I praise you that they were not swept away).
I praise you for the Aboriginal woman who calls the whales, and for all those hours I stared at the water hoping to see whales spouting, and I praise you for those two unforgettable mornings when I woke from dreaming of whales, filled with gratitude that I had seen them even in my dreams.
I praise you for the lake where we paddled with my friend while the dog swam alongside, right round that little island. I praise you for the way the silver light shimmered on the branches that hung over the water, and for my friend who said it was his favourite thing to see. I praise you for the way the dog rested his face on his paw on the side when we brought him on board because of his exhaustion, because he had swum so far and so well. I praise you for the fish that I saw jumping near the boat. And I praise you for the fish my children saw when they had waited a long time for it, looking.
May your praise be always on my lips and in my heart. For life is not long enough to praise you; and were all the oceans ink and all the skies a scroll, it would not be enough to tell of all your goodness in a town like this, on a day like this, when the sun is in the sky and the water shines like glass, a mirror of your glory, God of creation's joy.