This was originally going to be a reflection on “Farewell” and the grief and challenge that accompanies change and transition—like changing rectors. But with the horrific escalation of the bushfires that have afflicted Australia—particularly the south-east—the mere transitions of moving from one intact house to another or of moving from one livelihood to another—those ‘mere’ challenges seem somewhat diminished in significance when we have witnessed people lose lives, homes and livelihoods.
On 16 February, 1983, the day after I matriculated to the University of Melbourne—in itself enough of a life changing experience—fires that became known as the ‘Ash Wednesday Bushfires’ tore through my home town of Macedon, taking seven lives (including my dad’s aunt, Amy), nearly half the houses of the district, the church where I was confirmed (The Good Shepherd, Mt Macedon) and the church I attended weekly (Holy Trinity,
Lower Macedon)—in fact ALL of the churches in Macedon and Mt Macedon
burnt down—but none of the pubs. Our house just survived—but it went from having a garden and fencing to being on a completely flattened, empty black landscape—I dubbed it ‘Mordor’. It was a traumatic experience. And this week I still find myself doing an inordinate amount of watering in the garden. I think there’s a deeply wired instinct to “extinguish” and “save” or at least to wet and “green” things as much as possible. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost loved ones, friends, property, or livelihoods—and all those who have been confronted with the horror
of the ferocity of these fires. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those serving and extending solace, kindness and compassion to those who are suffering loss or trauma. Our thoughts and prayers for fatigued firefighters, for their selfless service. Farewell, blessing and peace, Dean Spalding