Tonight I drove home from work, surrounded by the smoke from a blaze hundreds of kilometres away. It’s been three weeks since a bush fire was close enough to our home for us to pre-emptively leave. Before that day, we had no bush fire action plan. We believed we wouldn’t need one.
Tonight I drove home from work surrounded by the smoke of devastation hours away from me. At work I was brought to tears by the news; an 18 month old girl farewelling her father, wearing his RFS helmet and kissing his coffin as it departed. I imagined the unimaginable grief to be that girl’s mother; teaching her toddler about loss while grieving her husband, and the life they had planned together.
How do I lament? I’ve never been taught. But lament seems the only option. As we, in unscathed homes and safe suburbs go about our days, planning our parties, and cooking our meals, I wonder how can we?
In our “lucky country” we rarely see tragedy, rarely see devastation, and rarely witness widespread and indiscriminate loss of life. We don’t know how to lament, just as we don’t know how to celebrate success. Everywhere I look I see blame and conspiracy theories and misinformation. I see heroism, celebration of the heroes, and good stories. I see devastation, loss, and pain. I see smoke.
For me, this isn’t a time for blame or for scapegoating, for spreading lies or ignorant theories. It is a time for action, assistance, empathy, lament. But how to lament? To carry on in my everyday, with the knowledge of this devastation, I need lament.
Smoke fills the air. Our earth is choking. The Spirit of God, moving through the trees; the breath of life speaking life into existence, is choking.
Sunday school; you did not teach me to lament. School did not teach me to lament. University did not teach me to lament. Society has not taught me to lament. And yet I must.
Billions of creatures, beautifully, wonderfully created, are choking, burning, and dying.
I sit, feeding my baby to sleep, and lament. The ache in my soul, the hollow expression on my face. These things lead me on. These things, simple, easily moved to the side, easily forgotten and gotten over, teach me to lament, and remind me to lament.
The loss of human life increases.
Political games are played.
A 18 month old girl, wearing her father’s RFS helmet, kisses the coffin goodbye.
There is no joy in this. There is no peace in this. There is lament.