This morning I woke to 2020 and noticed the silence. Nothing too unusual about that. We live on the outskirts of Toowoomba where there is open space across the road and no neighbours right on our fences. Last night was New Years Eve so the revellers are probably still asleep. But then I remembered the silence of last night.
It has been some time since I actually saw the New Year in. I am getting a little old for partying all night. But even when I have been tucked up in bed, I am usually still woken at the strike of midnight by happy cheers and a rousing chorus of Happy New Year.
Not this year. I didn’t hear a thing. Now it might be that my neighbours are the quiet unpartying type too. Or perhaps I am getting a little hard of hearing. However even though my neighbours are not right on my doorstep, I do hear them occasionally during the day. Especially the children. Not last night.
For the beginning of a new year and a new decade, the mood here is somewhat subdued. Sombre. Bush fires have been ravaging our nation on a scale many have labelled apocalyptic. Scorched earth, blazing red skies, homes and towns reduced to rubble. Over 1000 homes have been lost. The death toll is approaching 20 and expected to rise. Emergency services are stretched to the limit. And the fires continue to burn.
Our hearts are torn. A new year is a time for celebrating. A new decade even more. How can we celebrate when fellow Australians have lost everything? How can we cheer when their New Year is filled with tragedy, despair and uncertainty? With the bushfire season in full swing, the beginning of 2020 looks bleak.
Yet amongst the smoke, ash and rubble there is hope. The courage and selflessness of our fire fighters, putting their lives on the line to save others, are an inspiration to us all. The volunteers who tirelessly provide meals, supplies and behind the scenes support show how we can pull together in a crisis. And in time, we will see a blackened earth renewed with new growth and communities rebuild. From the ashes of tragedy, our spirit will rise to demonstrate the courage and true grit that lies beneath our skin.
There is no doubt that there are big challenges ahead and the future may be clouded with uncertainty, but there are things that we can hold onto for a brighter new year.
That we are stronger when we stand together.
That joy can be found in the little things.
And that there is always hope.
May your 2020 be filled with hope, courage and joy