Out of Good Friday, Easter

Threat of fire looming,
adrenalin flowing,
fear rising,
towering clouds of smoke enveloping,
fight or flight decisions.


Then, late one night,
roaring in the darkness,
fire hit, walls of flame descending,
people fearful for their very lives,
red tongues devouring flora, fauna, property.


Locals, soon to be heroes,
fighting rearguard actions
in extreme conditions.

03 P2281852 'Thank You', W Tree, Feb 28, '20.JPG

Then, dwelling in the aftermath,
immersed in devastation, destruction, death,
homes, memories, livelihoods shattered:

04 P1250743 Family Home Destroyed.JPG

smoke choking, colour gone,
ashes on the ground,
falling from the skies,
washed up on beaches,
eerie silence enveloping.
Adrenalin, still coursing through,
energising, exhausting bodies.

05 P1150513 Smoky Landscape, Sarsfield, Jan 15, '20.JPG

As people meet,
‘It’s so good to see you!’
passionate, heartfelt embracing of one another …

06 PC052003 Embrace.JPG

living with, fighting,
a myriad of feelings.
Questions arise.
Difficult questions.
Demanding questions.
Unanswerable questions.

07 Sun through Smoke Apr 21, '09 010.jpg

How do I go on living?
How do we recover?
When there seems no road ahead,
which way to turn?
Where is God in this?

There is a thin line between fear and faith,
between anxiety and trust.

People come,
people speak,
handshakes offered,
not always reciprocated.
Promises made.
Will they be fulfilled?
Will there be listening?
Will ways forward be found?
Recovery, healing?

09 P2261691 Death & Life, Gelantipy, Feb 26, '20.JPG

Activity all round,
sites cleared,
destruction cleared,
roads cleared,
hearts racing,
minds cluttered, chaotic.

10 P2171382 Clearing Princes Highway.JPG

A barbeque is held
people gather.
Sausages cooked, devoured;
and a glass or two
amid much conversation,
the sharing of stories.
Community re-formed, strengthened.
(There will be countless sausage sizzles
in the weeks and months ahead.)

11 BBQ Labertouche Apr 9, '09 017.jpg

At the Relief Centre,
tears are shed,
relief etched on faces
as there is listening
to stories told:
as compassion is shared.
Are such interactions
meetings on holy ground?

12 Meeting on Holy Ground Apr 9, '09 024.jpg

One man,
overwhelmed by his holocaust of fire,
the devastation, and enormity of recovery,
is immobilised.
‘There is too much to do.
I don’t know where to start’.
Another, after listening with intent, suggested
‘Choose one thing,
Focus on it …
When that is done,
Choose one more’.

Some time later,
they met again,
on site.
The One
expressed his gratitude,
‘The small steps approach is working’.
The Another
could see it in the work achieved
and in the countenance before him:
Was the God in One
meeting the God in Another?
Was the God in Another
meeting the God in One?

After the fires, rain came,
rain fell, over 100 mils of it,
saturating the soil.
Days later,
the earth gave forth its produce,
as shoots of grass emerged.

13 P1240589 Life returns after rain, Sarsfield, Jan 24, '20 large.JPG

Green grass …
To blackened environments,
the colour, returning,
transfigured the land
as well as many singed hearts and minds.
Spirits lifted.
Was this resurrection?

14 P2171301 Is this resurrection.JPG

In one rural area,
as two people spoke,
a woman, suddenly distracted,
averted her eyes
as she looked beyond her companion,
crying tears of joy and relief:
‘Eric! He’s alive!
He’s come back!
We thought he was dead’.

scampering across the paddock,
was Eric, the echidna.
‘We thought he was dead’.

15 P1220525 Eric, Windsor Drive Echidna.JPG

‘My dams have been empty for three years.
Look now!
They’re overflowing!
What a sight for sore eyes!’

16 P1230570 130ml rain fills the dam, Sarsfield, Jan 23, '20.JPG

After days of deathly silence,
birds returning:
kookaburra, magpie,
black cockatoo, rainbow lorikeet,
their songs ringing through the air:
a joy-filled cachophany of sound.
What a chorus!
What colour!
What life!

17 P2130940 Rainbow Lorikeet.JPG

And, out of the desolation,
the beginnings of new life,
greens, reds, blues, browns,
many colours,
the exuberance of nature’s recovery,
– what naturalists call epicormic growth –
breaking through blackness:
emerging from the trunks of trees.
Easter rising from Creation’s Good Friday.

Could it be that, like nature,
out of our struggles and traumas,
new life emerges in we humans?
Could it be that God’s presence
is in literally every thing and every one?
… the Divine Presence in us and in all creation?
… the source of our hope?
Could it be …?

20 P2271805 Regrowth, Buchan Ridge, Feb 27, '20.JPG


Alan Mathews is a retired Uniting Church minister with a passion for photography and discovering life in everyday moments. In these days of social isolation, he enjoys playing with words and images; and with the ‘doors’ they open. He lives, works, and plays on Boonwurrung land.

3 thoughts on “Out of Good Friday, Easter

  1. Thanks Karen, telling this story has given me opportunity to name and continue working with/through the issues that visiting in East Gippsland in January & February raised for me. It’s cathartic for me; and may be for others too. Alan Mathews

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