Please picture this: You are in the Burswood Park, down by the Swan River in the early evening of a fine winter day, a few months ago. Nearby is a park shelter. This one:
Now, in your imagination, see it as it was on the night:
Each of the seven supporting timbers for the roof was trimmed with bright orange ties, of crepe paper. The two tables inside were covered with white crepe paper, with an orange overlay and the seats trimmed with orange and white ties, too.
Along the back and side walls, fragrant candles of orange and white were burning, filling the night air with gentle perfume and deterring nighttime insects.
With some friends, we held a Candlelit Vigil in Burswood Park last August. We supported those who had survived suicidal attempts and the families of those who did not. People attending were invited to enter the shelter and sign an attendance sheet and take their own photographs.
To the front and right of the shelter, a stand covered with dark brown and silver overlay held a series of beautiful candles in their own decorated glass holders. Members of the audience lit them as they came forward from the group to honour those we remember: loved ones lost, survivors, carers and those presently needed our love and support. Others stood in witness, lit candles in hand.
Can you now imagine this shelter, decked out with orange and white and silver, with candles that flickered in the early evening light and the long BBQ covered and decked with candles?
It was warm, welcoming and offered a lovely venue for the Vigil.
In the background, Chopin played quietly. A mother read a poem, in remembrance of a daughter lost. A young woman spoke of her own struggle and recovery. Other shared their stories of hope and support. To conclude, each person received a copy of the poem and the Desiderata – which was read aloud.
Similar vigils were held right across Australia on the same night and at the end of the evening, after tears, hugs and thanks, we returned to our safe, warm homes.
Floods and Tears
In the desolation of the terrible floods ravaging our beautiful country on the East Coast; seeing the loss of life and separation of families; being in close touch with family and friends in Queensland and Victoria, the pain of being bereft of my daughter, our sister and granddaughter has been sharply felt. It is not something of which I often speak.
The past few weeks, watching the anguish of families who lives have been torn apart, and for whom we can do so little except express our sympathy and donate money towards them rebuilding their lives, has brought me to tears many times.
Those who will suffer “survivor guilt” because they have not perished will need a great deal of support, for a long time to come.
A rapid increase in mental health services is needed to cope with the despair many are experiencing upon returning to their flooded homes.
Right now, Lifeline is bringing on extra staff – not just to handle the huge increase in crisis calls, but also to offer face-to-face counselling to flood victims on the ground, many of whom are without phone service.
This is no time to be idle – of mind or spirit.
I urge you to support Lifeline, the Red Cross and other reliable organizations who will help us bring some relief and comfort to our fellow families across the country.
(Lifeline donation link) >>> Lifeline Donation Link