I had a meeting near Kinglake today. As i was driving up the hill they were saying on the radio that the bushfire cleanup had finally been completed. It was weird hearing that and driving past this…

It was even weirder that just around that bend was the council sign saying ‘check your fire alarms and clean your chimneys now’.

The new green is garish, and clashes with the memory of the dusty colour of eucalypts… but it’s beautiful, and surreal in a Dr Seuss kind of way.

All the media reports from the royal commission into the fires are about how to never let it happen again. It still feels like we’re side-stepping the real conversation – how we learn to live with the realisation that we are human and fragile and all too mortal… but maybe that’s something we can’t focus on, at least not for too long, because it’s too blinding in its intensity.

I’m in Port Philip Prison on Thursday, for a midwinter service. I wrote this prayer for that today, while in a cafe in kinglake:

We gather today in search of the hope
that is tenacious and resilient enough
to be our company through the longest nights
and the darkest hours.

You have your work cut out for you, God.
We are not easy to convince.
We are not content with clich├ęs
about light at the end of the tunnel
or glib promises of the dawn that will break.

We need to know how to survive this darkness,
how to find love in this most barren and desolate place,
how to live in this long night
and not simply wait,
holding on,
for its end.

Because it might not end,
and we need to live.

So we wait in the darkness
and pray for peace

we wait in the fear
and pray for wisdom

we wait in the loneliness
and pray for grace

we wait in the confusion
and pray for company

we wait in the emptiness
and pray for imagination

and we wait in this horror
and pray we will live.


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