in the ashes

If you’re coming to the basement on Saturday night, you might want to move on to the next blog in your reader! or if you’re looking for a change of pace, read this, which i meant to post about earlier in the week…

It feels weird putting up a space before we do it, but this seems to be the week to do it… We haven’t quite finalised stuff yet, and if you were creating a space for the weekend then you’d add your own things around it, but maybe this will be helpful to someone.

if you’re doing something where you are, it would be lovely to hear what that is… [and a reminder that it’s possible to donate to the bushfire appeal through Share]

Only a couple of the spaces are interactive – we figure people are looking for space and silence, rather than to do things. Each of the spaces will have cushions, etc, so people can stay there a while. We only have vague ideas about how all the spaces will look yet, so what’s below is mostly describing context and words. We are using limited images of people – the media have perfected the use of people as tools of manipulation, there’s no need for us to replicate that.

the spaces go like this…

[We paraphrased Job for the entry, and we’ll project the passage next to some images from Mike of the fire at their place]

There’s an ancient story of a man named Job
– a good man, noble and upright.

On one terrible day,
his children were killed in a wild storm
and his farm was wiped out in a fire.

When his friends came to comfort him,
they found him sitting in the ashes.
In their great sorrow they tore their clothes, sprinkled dust on their heads and cried bitterly.

For seven days and nights, they sat silently on the ground beside him
because there simply were no words to say…

[the two different sets of words will be placed onto opposite ends of the same space]

there have been extraordinary moments this week
– miracles –

someone alive when we thought they were dead,
an impossible escape
the house left standing when by rights it should have been destroyed
the inevitable that somehow was avoided…

even if we’re not sure who
or what
to say thankyou to,
here is a space to do that anyway.

there have been moments of absolute devastation this week

when a prayer wasn’t answered
when the worst was found to be true
when a choice turned out to have devastating consequences

we know there are no answers
but we have to ask the question anyway



[we’ll do a representation of the different statistics that have made up the week – and there’ll be some way for people to write prayers – probably writing with charcoal onto the wall… got to love a concrete space]

it’s been a week of incomprehensible, overwhelming numbers

we still don’t know how many people have died
– the truth is that one would have been too many

we may find out how many houses have been destroyed
but we know they held so much more than just possessions

put a name to the devastation
the person you hurt for
those who have died
the people you know who are now trying to survive
the places you love that have been destroyed…

[this is the prayer i put up before, and we’ll add in a couple of leunig prayers]

It’s only possible to keep living if you have hope

and this week
it’s hard to imagine what it is that keeps some people breathing.

We don’t know how people get up each day when they know that everything
and everyone
who made their life, their life, has gone.

but they do.

and rather than try to understand
or put words to it
[this is no time for theology or philosophy]

let’s just wait here for a moment


in honour of the fact
that they do get up each day

and if we can
let’s hold the faith for them
that it won’t be this terrible
and impossible

[this is a hard space – bloody hard – the level of feeling about the people who have committed these crimes is so high, so visceral… and rightly so.]

as more news unfolds this week
it’s becoming more and more certain that many of the fires were deliberately lit.

if you are able,
pray for those who are living with the guilt of these crimes.

pray for justice to be done

pray for insight and comprehension

and, in it’s right time and right way,
pray forgiveness.

there are a couple of art / installation things – sort of evocative moments. email me if you want details about them.

[we’ll have some visual stuff here – a loop of smoke]

Elijah went and stood on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord was about to pass by.

Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces.
But the Lord was not in the wind

And after the wind an earthquake
But the Lord was not in the earthquake

And after the earthquake a fire
But the Lord was not in the fire

And after all this a sound of sheer silence…

is this where we are to find you, God?
and how will we know you are here?

we’ll have a space that’s about offering ways for people to help long term, and about maintaining commitment to the cause, as such.

we’ll also have sofas with tea and coffee


  1. Becca

    Hi Cheryl,
    Here in Adelaide, our hearts remain so connected with our brothers and sisters in Victorian communities. yesterday at Glynde Lutheran, I used a variation on many of your words to lead my community in prayer for those in Victoria. as i’m quite interested in visual prayer, i used a few images on a screen along with the spoken words. would’ve loved to had some charcoal/ water thing happening too, but it wasn’t to be…
    anyway, thank you so much for sharing your gift of language with us, and thus your heart. The simplicity and space you awaken is noble and luminous; for me your words clearly express the circle of belonging that embraces us all. May a meadow of delight be stirred within your dark valleys of grief… we stand with you, we mourn with you, we offer you the shelter of listening and healing.
    shalom and lightness to you

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