Selfishly, I am grateful that I did not buy a property in Australia. I don’t know that I would have the resilience and the fortitude to start again on a land burnt black and bare.
For some time now even before these fires, I’ve felt a sense of loss that has now been magnified. The loss of life as it was even just five years ago, ten years ago. The loss of innocence and naivety – the unthought expectations we held in the back of our minds that life would continue as it had always done.
From today’s vantage point, the endless summers at Bondi or on any of the coastal towns seem like a luxury gone forever. The full, carefree days spent at the beach swimming, surfing, catching waves, walking barefoot in hardly more than a bikini, stopping by at the local fish and chip shop on the way home seem as if from another time. The threat of more soaring temperatures; the risk of more fires and pollution; the loss of more lives seem never far and lurk in the shadows.
I grieve for the apparent never-ending loss of our ecosystems, our biodiversity, our climate, and clean water. I grieve for the ongoing degradation of the only home we have. I grieve for the loss of time we seemed to have. Perhaps, it was only an illusion but it seemed there was more time for things to evolve and change in a way that we, humans, could adapt to and cope with.
Now the world feels like an unsafe place. Great uncertainty is the new normal. The next natural disaster or the next political upheaval flashes across the papers and screens on a daily basis. Leaders that seem so disconnected from the needs of the people they represent, from the needs of the land they govern continue to make decisions that take us on a trajectory towards greater suffering and a movement away from allowing life to thrive. Some may be better shielded by wealth or privilege but at this rate, we will eventually all fail to thrive.
Meanwhile, the sales in the shops continue to scream ‘Buy! Buy! Buy!’. It all came from somewhere, made of plastic and other materials taken from the earth, using someone’s time, effort and energy. Where does it all go? And where does it all go if no one buys the stuff? Shipped to poor countries? Thrown into a hole in the ground somewhere? Where does all the food go that exceeds best before dates? How is it that we can blindly continue to buy more than we need and throw away? Some may argue that they don’t throw things away but inevitably, when things break or our cupboards are bursting, these things all have to find somewhere else to go. Excess in all sorts of ways marks our experience. The same excess assaults our senses so that it becomes easier not to see; or it numbs our perception so that we don’t see at all.
A Whatsapp message appears at 3.45 pm – a global call to prayer at 4.00 pm– pray for rain in Australia. Tears fall as I pray for ongoing, steady, heavy rain across the country – rain that would break the drought, soak the land, fill the dams, put out the fires and ultimately save lives.
I also pray for the healing of the land, of our planet, of our minds and hearts in every corner of the world.