A land of fire and flood

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Bishop Allan Ewing, Bishop of the Diocese of Bunbury writes with regard to the recent devastating fires:

Dorothea Mackellar’s poem, Core of My Heart was written in 1908 when as a young 19 year old Australian she found herself in the ‘alien landscape’ of England. In the second verse she writes one of the best known of all Australian verse:

‘I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains
Of ragged mountain ranges
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror —
The wide brown land for me!’

While evocative and optimistic Mackellar does not ignore the reality of this land; it is terror as well as beauty.

In later verses of the same poem she returns to these themes of harshness, optimism and beauty. She writes, ‘For flood and fire and famine she pays us back three-fold…’ offering the hope of new life that follows from these awful disasters. Later in the poem she writes of Australia as ‘A wilful, lavish land.’

In these early days of 2016 we are confronted in this Diocese with the terror of fire. News of the tragic loss of life and the destruction of 143 homes has moved us deeply. The immense extent of the fires and the rapid speed of the fire that ripped through the Yarloop township have been profound reminders of the power of fire and our own powerlessness in the face of such onslaught.

For those who have lost so much there are two sets of needs: the immediate need for shelter, safety, clothing and food; and then companionship on the long journey of recovery and restoration. There have been numerous offers of help made to this diocese and through the parishes most closely affected (Pinjarra-Waroona and Harvey). The immediate needs are well met through the work of the emergency services, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.

What can we do?

What is most helpful in these early hours and days is not clothing or food, but financial assistance. Rather than start another appeal I am encouraging all who wish to help to send financial assistance to The Lord Mayor’s Distress Relief Fund. The LMDRF is the recognised state emergency fund and provides relief for personal hardship and distress arising from natural disasters occurring within WA.

The costs of administering the funds are absorbed by the City of Perth - all money raised goes directly to those affected. The fund is operated by an independent board and donations over $2 are tax deductable. 

Donations to the Waroona and District Fires Appeal can be made:
Electronic transfer:
BSB 306-035,
Account 2014474

or

Over-the counter at any BankWest branch.

As people of faith we are called to come to God in prayer and I urge your prayers for all, for those who grieve and mourn, for those who continue to fight the fires, and for all charged with the care of those in need. Pray for their well-being and for opportunities to serve.

I believe that our tasks will grow in the days and months ahead, as the land and the people are slowly restored to a fullness of life. We are a people of new life, hope and faith. May our presence and our voice be an instrument of Christ, as companions of hope and restoration.

Bishop Allan Ewing
Bishop Diocese of Bunbury