Offering a healing touch, today, next week and next year
The fires haven’t reached us…. yet. It’s hard to fathom how some are spared, some are not. But we are grateful that we are safe for now.
It seems churlish to complain about the choking smoke when the blazes of this summer haven’t physically touched us.
They have entered our house and our psyche in another way, however, through the TV news, news feeds on our phones, the Fires Near Me app whose notification signal focuses the attention immediately.
It’s not the pungent smoke that causes our eyes to water as the ghastly infernos portrayed on our screens touch us all. We see when a nation’s tears are gathered they can become a mighty tide for good.
To donate is good, but it’s not all about money. One columnist acidly put it: “As millions of dollars in donations roll in … one can’t help but wonder, if someone donates to the various appeals and doesn’t post a photo of their receipt to Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, did they really make a difference at all?”
Many Australians believe we are a generous nation, particularly when others are in strife. Give us a hospital telethon or national disaster appeal and we are eager and happy to do our bit, and then some.
In the cold light of day, when the emotion of the moment has passed, when days of need become weeks and years of rebuild, our patience and good cheer can be stifled.
As the frightening bushfires have turned the equally catastrophic drought into death, mayhem and trauma for so many mainly non-city communities a lot of Australians, perhaps for the first time, have responded willingly to the plight of the bush.
The choking smoke haze enveloping cities such as Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney remind everyone that payment for the bushfires is made by us all.
Never has Ben Lee’s “We’re all in this together” seemed more appropriate as a secondary choice for national anthem.
Regular updates by the Archdiocese’s Vicar General Fr Tony Percy on our own Daily Voice e-news reflect a heart-warming move by parishioners untouched by the flames to reach out to others, particularly on the South Coast who have borne the brunt.
After all, as Christians we are called on to show love and, importantly, to bring hope.
The increasingly haunted looking NSW politician Andrew Constance, whose South Coast electorate was devastated, stood amid the ruins and asked the poignant question: Where’s the hope in this?
And the answer is really up to the rest of us whose lives have been inconvenienced rather than incinerated.
The hope we offer can come through money donated, but it could include the personal touch of a visit to the coast or the mountains, an invitation to the afflicted to take time out with us at no expense to them, a message of love and support, prayer and many other ongoing expressions of compassion that are limited only by our imagination.
It isn’t, and will not be, only about the money.
As Catholics of our Archdiocese, our schools and parishes are ideal vehicles to offer a healing touch. Not just this week, but next, not just this summer but next.
It is suggested in the story in Mark’s Gospel of Jesus healing the paralytic, who was lowered through the roof of a house at Capernaum, that Jesus was moved not only by the helplessness of the victim but also by the faith, compassion, imagination and hope of the companions.
It’s up to us how we answer the murmurings of our heart.
Geoff Orchison is a former editor of the Catholic Voice.