This past week was long and difficult. Monday last week started as it usually does – off to work, getting organised for the week and at this time, getting ready for Christmas celebrations and a final busy week before winding down for the festive season.
About 10am on that Monday, everything changed with the news of the siege close by in the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place. Like many other Sydney workers, I found myself in lockdown, then being evacuated, then unable to return to the workplace.
And emotionally connected to the unfolding events.
The overwhelming feelings were of horror for the hostages and intense terror for their helplessness and fate. Like much of the country, I watched for hours into the night, breath held in a surreal landscape of fear of what might happen.
The early hours brought the news of the tragic outcome.
In the following days, the mood has been sombre, a different atmosphere on the train into the city, a sense of collective sadness. The flowers cascading their way down Martin Place reflecting this.
Many of us, it seems, have in our individual ways reflected, been touched, reassessed much.
For me, the return to my office and buying my morning coffee filled me with sudden and overwhelming emotion. The ordinary every day action of so many Sydney-siders suddenly poignant in the aftermath.
The sense of vulnerability, that it could have been me or so many people close to me. The harsh reality of its randomness.
The collective response has been heartening though sad: the growing sea of flowers reflecting the grief of so many individuals pieced together; the emerging sweet fragrance in the air; the multi-faith ceremonies and statements of support and the solidarity across religious boundaries that re-emphasise that we are all one community; the wave of support for Muslim women and others possibly affected by intolerance arising from this event.
I have engaged with Susannah Conway’s December Reflections, 2014 this month. It has been a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the year and as always with Susannah’s initiatives, a chance to reignite our own creativity and look around us with new eyes.
At the end of the week, the day 20 prompt in December Reflections was “this year was…”. I have to say this year has been intense for many reasons. But as the events of recent days have reminded me, there is much to be thankful for: supportive and loving family, friends, work colleagues; having a beautiful city in which to live and work; summer arriving; creativity always; books to read; maybe books to write; and the power of collective feeling..
This year and these past days have reminded me of what is of value.