Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hope shines through

My thoughts today, I think like most Australians, have been on the unfolding flooding tragedy happening in Queensland. Lives have been lost, homes have been shattered, communities devastated. And while the worst of the human toll may be in Queensland, these amazing rains are also wreaking havoc in states across the country.

Experiencing a natural disaster changes a place and it changes you. I was in Canberra in 2003 when bushfires claimed 4 lives and over 500 homes. In 2009 following the horrific Victorian fires my direct work phone line was inadvertently given out as an assistance line and I spent weeks talking to distraught people who had lost everything and needed assistance that I just couldn't give them.

You may wonder why I am writing about disasters on a blog that is supposed to be about the happy things in life, but some of the times I've felt most uplifted have been associated with disasters. There really is nothing like it for bringing people together in the most inspiring of ways. And witnessing loss at such a scale makes me realise how fortunate I am and what a blessed life I lead.

Canberra has often been called a city without a soul, but the community spirit we all experienced in 2003 shows what is lying just under the surface. In a city this small everyone knew someone who had lost a home. The effect was profound, it was as if the whole city had post traumatic shock, but people opened their wallets, their wardrobes and their homes. I witnessed families being gathered up in the arms of their friends and sheltered as they rebuilt their lives. For those who lived through it there is a definite before and after, it was a shattering of innocence as we realised our city is so fragile but an awakening of a community as people revealed just how strong they are.

It truly makes my heart lift and fills me with pride about how we support each other, through acts of bravery, acts of friendship, acts of love.

So in these dark days, when the news seems so terrible, I encourage everyone to think about what they can do, and know through your own generosity, you will not just be helping others, you will raise your own spirits too. The rain may be pouring now, but the sun will shine again.

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