As I sit and type I think of the range of emotions that must be running around our community today. I'm sitting here waiting to meet my daughter and her fiance at an engagement party. We have friends and their 4 month old baby staying with us, and have just returned from a great time of fellowship at our Church. Yes, there's a HEAP of work to be done (as always) ... but ... what a joy today is for us.
It's easy for me to be joyful ... but it's also a day for thinking of others - especially those in our wider community affected by the fires. How would I be feeling if I'd lost my home? ... my job? ... my family? How would I be feeling if I'd been terrified by that ferociously powerful 'thing' that struck on Black Saturday? I have NO idea!
Last Friday Wayne and I met friends at the burnt-out remains of their home in Bald Spur Rd, Kinglake. I'd seen photos. I'd heard the stories. But I wasn't prepared for what was there. I didn't know where I was. I know the road - but the landmarks that guided me were gone. I thought I knew the 'lie of the land' ... but I'd never seen its 'real' shape before. I didn't know it. Their home had always seemed such a long way down the road - but we were 'there' in no time. We saw their car almost immediately we entered the road - there was no dense forest around us to slow our path.
The thing that struck me the most was how 'naked' it all seemed. There was nothing ... NOTHING ... beneath the trees ... for as far as the eye could see. Just black towering sticks above the vacant earth. The home was twisted, crippled rubble. The silence was deafening. Glass from the windows lay on the bricks where it had melted into blobs. Only the fireplace was still intact - where I had sat drinking red wine, shamelessly teasing and laughing with our friends. We'll still do that again ... but not at that hearth.
As the late afternoon 'Kinglake fog' descended, blanketing everything with its eerie presence, we walked the street where so many had perished, stopping to pay our respect at a home where cups of tea had been shared on the brick patio, beneath the vines, surrounded by a garden filled with vegetables and flowers. The paradise had gone - but not the memories - they were as clear as if it were yesterday.
We were startled by bird calls - but there wasn't a tree with a leaf on its branches in sight. We spied the crimson rosellas nearby - their vivid colour an amazing sight on the blackened branches, surrounded by the fog. A feeding station had been set up ... they were 'back'. As we looked down we saw other life returning. Bulbs were poking their way through the burnt earth. Trees were sprouting - the grey-green of new gum growth looking like 'fluff' on the blackened trunks. Fungus was growing in the earth around the burnt, old, fallen logs. The ivy, oxalis and agapanthus were sprouting (no wonder we can't get rid of them!), as was the pineapple sage, pelargoniums and aquilegia. From the depths of death and despair there emerged new life.
I was staring at the Easter story.
At times like this we're so blessed to know the love of God and His promise for our future. There will be pain, and suffering, and despair - but new life is close by.A xo