On this New Year's Eve, 4 000 people took refuge from bushfires on the beach at Mallacoota in Victoria. The dramatic pictures - full of burning, smoke, and red skies - understandably drew forth words such as 'apocalyptic'. With two more lives lost today, together with many houses, the unprecedented series of bushfires across Australia cast a strong pall over the nation. The evacuation on the beach is but one powerful symbol, but, in the apocalyptic mood, it vividly makes fact the fiction of the famous film On the Beach (released in 1959, starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and Fred Astaire), with its Melbourne 'end of the world' scenes. This is not the product of nuclear devastation however, but of the wilful neglect of decades of climate research and the 'she'll be right' blinkered stubborness of so much Australian and worldwide 'leadership'. It is a fierce verdict on such self-obsessed, and ultimately self-destructive, politics which have been so prominent in so much of the world this year. At the turn of this year therefore, lament, rather than looking forward, may seem most appropriate. What hope do we find?...
Today I received my contributor's copy of the latest Iona Community publication - what a joy! It is a book of readings, reflections and prayers about 'the bombs and bullets and landmines we drop into the heart of other people's lives' and the many good folk working for peace and reconciliation in the UK and further afield (i.e even, not least?, in southern Queensland). Like so many Wild Goose Publications, it is an excellent resource which can be used for personal and group reflection. I hope it will serve that purpose well.
My own contribution, as a member of the Iona Community's Australian sister body the Wellspring Community, is a piece about 'Building a model city of peace and harmony Down Under': telling something about our Toowoomba journey, and sharing our now well-established diverse community Affirmation, as part of an encouragement to anyone, anywhere, to 'seek peace and pursue it'. Toowoomba is no more special than anywhere else - though it is particularly amazing in sometimes quite unique ways! - for everyone can share the journey and the joy: as Jesus said, the shalom of God is right here among and within us - this is the good news, get real, get going, get loving!
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.