“The difference between a good life and a bad life is how well you walk through the fire.” Carl Jung
Sometimes, it is only in the fire that a person’s qualities become apparent. We’re seeing a lot of that right now. The east coast of Australia is largely ablaze. Communities are being razed to smoking ashes, lives are being lost, including those trying to save others. We have been in drought for so long that our land is a tinder box, and the smallest spark sets the red devil howling across the landscape, consuming everything without respect for great or small. We are grateful for the mercy that has the wind blowing offshore, away from the dry heart of the country. People are showing their best side; they offer generous help, risk their own lives and hold out their hands to save each other. The debt we all owe to our fire services, professional and volunteer alike, is uncountable.
This is the view from space, side by side with the Regional Fire Service’s map of approximately the same area, showing all the active fires. Somewhere under that pall of smoke, there are people I care about, people I love. Some are struggling to breathe, some are worried, some are gritting their teeth and preparing to act to defend their homes and property and aid their neighbours. Friends and family are scanning the sky and horizon and praying for the wind to drop and maybe, just maybe, cooler temperatures and the chance of rain. The fire service has called the situation unprecedented: they have never had to fight so many fires on so many fronts. The rural fire service, staffed mainly by volunteers, has suffered an additional blow in that many of their fire stations have also been lost.
It’s counter-intuitive to say we’re fortunate. Our country is huge and our population is small. Compared with the US, for example, with its much greater population density, the loss of property and perhaps life is small. But the suffering is just as great, and because there are so few of us, the resources are fewer, the infrastructure to deal with fire is less and the budget is tiny by comparison.
If you believe in the power of prayer, pray. If positive thoughts are your thing, think them. Hard. But whatever you do, keep in mind those men and women at the fire front.