We went up the hill last night for the party to celebrate the closing of the Kinglake West relief centre [the post-fire work is at the point of moving from relief to recovery – this is a part of that process]. It was a great night – Ella and Jesse Hooper came up and did their thing, and they were brilliant [very un-rockstar like]… we did some stuff with the kids – there were around 50 of them – which was fun and exhausting.
the drive yesterday looked like this in some places
this in a few others
[blurred, i know – we were driving…]
None of the photos have burnt houses in them – they are in the gaps between… I guess the photos show something of what it’s like up there. There are moments [long moments, some of them] where it’s just all black, where the grief is overwhelming and simply terrible… and other times where it’s possible to see something growing back, where the black isn’t the whole picture. One woman last night told me that she cried yesterday when she went into her burnt out garden and saw that the cherry tree had new growth on it. ‘It lived!’ she said. And then she told me she turned around and looked at her house that didn’t make it and cried some more.
The little Uniting Church in Kinglake West, which has hosted the relief centre, is about to get a facelift courtesy of the Rotary Club – new paint, new carpet. The church has been so generous with their property and time; whatever the community has needed, they’ve let happen… and the people from the church are there working in the background, offering amazing hospitality to those who come to use the space. These are people who have lost things too – property, friends – and they are doing this from a place of pain themselves, not sympathy. It’s a fantastic expression of grace. They are talking now about what happens next, and hospitality is still a core part of that. It’s amazing to see. It’s easy to diss institutional churches for being archaic and out of touch [i know it’s easy! i do it all the time], but this is anything but that… it’s responsive to the context and community; there’s a seamless flow between the life of the community and the church; it’s offering an incarnational expression of grace and hope…