Everything is oppressive at the moment! The agony and horror of the fires and the extraordinary heat. The frustration of watching our country’s leader remind us that “that’s what Dad’s do” as explanation for not returning to the country after the tragedy in New Zealand and the destruction and carnage of the bushfires. Its hot. Its hard to breathe. Every news bulletin reminds us, several times, that the weather is going to get worse, the wind is going to continue to come from the west, but they remain unpredictable and we are in for it! And there is no rain in sight! Which brings me to the drought.
Dust bowls. Dry dams. No shelter. Towns dying. Walking off their land. Losing their livelihoods. Its too terrible!
And in my own little world of nothing particularly important, we are preparing for Christmas by doing the big clean up! The skip takes up the driveway. The lockable paper recycling bin is just about three quarters full. When I wash my hands the water actually changes colour because my hands are covered with the dust of accumulated rubbish. Nothing compared to what must come off when volunteer fire fighters come home for a break and a shower!
Things that I thought were indispensable are being propelled into the skip via the bedroom window. I suppose we are just saving the children from having to do the big clean up when we go down the river in a basket – if there is a river anywhere to be found!
I am exhausted!
BUT in my exhaustion I have stopped to consider what I have found. So many things that I have searched for. Things I have written. At least 20 journals – begun. Each one usually with only one or two entries before I have abandoned it, put it down somewhere and bought a new one.
I found my original journal begun in 1980. I have been searching for it to find the recorded dates when each of my four unknown, beloved daughters died in utero. This year I found out that I am able to have a plaque for each of them in the Garden of the Innocence in our local cemetery. I have no offical record of their births or their deaths because none of them had reached a “viable” stage in the pregnancies.
Exhausted as I am, I can do something about that now!
I have been looking for a music book. Peter Kearney, an Australian songwriter is someone whose words and music inspired me. In one of his albums “The Year of God’s Favour?”, written to mark the bicentenary in 1988, he quoted from a letter my brother Peter wrote. I found it today! My brother Peter died in 2014. I loved him and I miss him but today, he was with me, in what is again becoming my music room surrounded by memory and love.
Here are his words:
”Out of my window I can see Lake Macquarie; the Pacific Ocean is five minutes walk away. Two hundred years ago this strip of land provided an abundance of food and a place where there were to be stories told, songs to be sung, ceremonies to be celebrated, lives to be lived within a society of complex, subtle relationships.
One hundred and ninety eight years ago, Governor Philip, who’d been on this continent a few minutes, read a proclamation which, in effect, dispossessed these people. That flagpole on Botany Bay, and then later Sydney Cove, punctured and poisoned the earth… The Awabakal speaking people here, between the lake and the ocean, took a generation before finding out that it was someone else’s land. How could they sing the Spirit’s song in a foreign land? They stayed long enough for a missionary to learn something of their language, and to translate into that language the Gospel of St Luke. Meanwhile some died of disease. Some were killed. Some fled. They have gone. Their language is gone.
But are there ghosts, who sing or wail in the night? Do they call out to the people-of-the-Spirit (the artists, the mystics, the prophets, those who have the land in their blood ) calling out for justice, perhaps, or for recognition, or decent burial rites? There is a book at the University, in which you can read, in Awabakal, the words: “Father, forgive them, They do no know what they are doing.” Do these syllables still sound in the night? I believe they do.
It seems to me a particularly bitter irony that the Spirit- people European decent (again the artists, the mystics, the prophets…) should take so very long to recognise, believe and to begin to interpret the voices in the night. Until the event of 1788 is seen and named, the Spirit will groan within the earth. And the groaning will drive some mad.
They will build thicker concrete-and-glass towers and breath artificial air, keeping their soles from the soil. They will fly jumbo jet to Bali and Hong Kong and Singapore and to the Sacred Sites of Europe, rather than risk Uluru at sunset. And they will try to stuff the emptiness of their soul with Packer cricket, Bond yacht racing or Fosters Melbourne cup, trying vainly to appease the Spirit that cries out to them to know and love the land into which they were born. Safer, they think, to whistle the advertisers’ jingles, than sing the Land’s songs. Fireworks, they decide rather than ceremonies. Flags and slogans, rather than learning some syllables of the original local language – in case one hears those voices, yet again, in the night.”
With the exception of the names of the sponsors, not much has changed! How good is that? Bloody hell, not good at all!