I’m getting a lot of calls asking whether we have any idea for prayer spaces for communities in the fires, particularly evacuation centres etc; these are some unformed first thoughts… play with them to make them work where you are.
If this is to be used with people who have experienced the fires directly, or those who are working with them, then I would say go simple, really simple. Have music, water to write / mark prayers into [instead of candles – i’d really suggest not using candles], a cross, plenty of space. I’d lay out four bowls of water, each with a bible passage next to it, and a simple question next to it… invite people to write their response into the water, or simply to run their fingers through it. The simpler the better…
psalm 55:1-4 … if you are tired, overwhelmed, and do not know how you will continue, wait here for a while… run your fingers through the water, let it hold the promise that you can survive today.
psalm 77:1 … if sadness consumes you, wait here for a while. write your grief into the water – know that your tears are god’s also.
psalm 22:1 … if fear holds you in its grip, wait here for a while. write what you need to tell of your story into the water.
psalm 63:1 … if you long for peace, wait here for a while. make a sign of the cross on the back of your hand. you do not leave here alone.
update: just thinking that this could be adapted really easily for communities that aren’t directly in the fires – just change the language a little so that it’s outward looking and not always personal – ‘write your prayer for those who are tired and overwhelmed’… ‘we are all more conscious of the vulnerability of those around us, and of our own fragility… write your prayer into the water’… ‘pray for those you know who have been affected, for those who are fearful; pray for those you don’t know who need energy to continue’
the very worst thing would be if we tried to make sense of it… and i’m really hesitant about putting god into the mix at this point, i’d rather just lay a space open where god can do what god does…