Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

08 February 2010

The Victorian Bushfires - a Year Later

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of "Black Saturday" - the day of the catastrophic bushfires in Victoria that claimed 173 lives and shattered countless others.  Last night the ABC screened a documentary called Inside the Firestorm which outlined the events of that day, narrated mostly through the stories of some of those who were there, and it showed a great deal of footage from various sources - a lot from home video and mobile phones.

It was sobering television.  I saw very little last year as the events were unfolding.  We had a total media ban in our household because we didn't want our boys to see the horror of it.  I kept up with events via snippets of news heard on the radio and reading the ABC News website when they weren't around.  Last night was the first time I saw the extent of the fires and the extent of the damage to property and to people's lives. 
When I reflected on the Victorian bushfires last year I finished up with a list of prayer points.  That list went like this...

We grieve and we feel helpless. But we can pray. For those of us who are physically remote from the fires and in no danger, let us make good use of our safety to give time over to praying for those so desperately in need – for those grieving the loss of loved ones, homes (and all that was stored away within their walls), livelihoods and community; for those who have escaped and are numb but will soon start to feel again; for those who are at work tirelessly fighting the fires and tending to the injured and grieving; and for those who will work out how to manage this dreadful situation in the short term and the long term. And let us pray that those deeply affected may turn to the deep comfort found in God who gives real hope when all else is lost. Amen

It strikes me that apart from the prayer for "those who are at work tirelessly fighting the fires", the rest of these prayer points remain relevant a year down the track.  Some of the survivors have built new homes or are in the process of doing so, some have bought new homes and some have moved away and won't be coming back.  The work of rebuilding the physical shells in which these people live is underway.  But that is only the very beginning of getting over something like this.  I imagine yesterday was a very hard day for most who experienced the fires (and we ought not to forget those who fought the fires, those involved in emergency services and those in front line caring services.)  First anniversaries of hard events are never easy.  Maybe today things will be a little easier for those affected by the fires.  But I think they still need our prayers.

[The photo is an original, taken looking over our back fence, while the local fire brigade put out a small fire in the bush behind us last summer.  This is one reason (although not the main one) we sheltered our boys from too much information about the Victorian fires.] 


Helen said...

It was very somber viewing wasn't it? Love the new blog header, not your garden is it??

Meredith said...

The flowers are ours. They are the rogue fresias that popped their heads up at the base of the gum tree next to the trampoline last Spring. Can't take any credit for the flowers whatsoever. The only thing I can take the credit for is the photo and working out how to put it there in the header...which actually didn't turn out to be that hard.