Saturday, March 03, 2007

Eternity at Midnight

Arthur Stace was a homeless alcoholic who lived in the streets of Sydney, Australia. After a conversion to Christianity, he quit drinking, and spent the rest of his life writing the word "Eternity" all over the city in yellow chalk.

Beginning in the 1930s Arthur Stace spent his early morning hours writing the word "Eternity" in a distinctive cursive style in every doorway, on every street, and major entrance to a public area that he could find in Sydney.

For years, the citizens of the city wondered who was writing the "one word sermon" and why. Every once in a while, someone would claim responsibility for the graffiti and the newspapers would print the stories.

In 1956, Stace was a member of the Burton Street Baptist Church, where he also served as the janitor and a prayer leader. One day, the pastor of the church, Rev. Lisle M. Thompson, stumbled across Stace while he was writing his chalk message on a sidewalk and the mystery of the "Eternity" messages all over Sydney was solved.

Stace said that after his conversion to Christianity, he heard a sermon in which the evangelist said, "Eternity! Eternity! Oh, that this word could be emblazoned across the streets of Sydney!" In his simple way, Stace heard this exclamation as a call of God and he decided to do that.

There is a huge illuminated sign on the Sydney Harbour Bridge that says "Eternity" in Trace's distinctive handwriting, a sign that was clearly seen by hundreds of millions of people at millenium parties and during the fireworks display at the end of the opening ceremonies at the Olympics in Sydney in 2000.

Arthur Stace is remembered in Sydney for his nearly 40-years of colourful lettering, which was designed to prompt people to think about eternity and their own mortality.

Image: The memorable bridge at midnight entering the new millennium.