Rev Jenny Coombes—Longreach Uniting Church minister—reflects on what Christmas means for the Longreach region of the outback and what people around the state can do for those impacted by drought.
It’s a time when communities manage to come together regardless of how good or bad the year has been.
Christmas lights and decorations start to appear on houses in town; and on letter boxes, sign posts and anthills along the road side.
There are gatherings—Community Carols, the town Christmas Street Party, BBQS, visits from Santa happening in most localities, at places like CWA halls in the middle of nowhere, or sometimes just the crossroads of various property access “roads”… basically anywhere it’s convenient for neighbours to gather. Big or small, the chance to catch up with friends, neighbours and family members who have returned home for a visit is not to be missed.
The lack of trees is not a problem when you can create one from “junk” around the yards. Innovation is part of the way of life.
As they look back on the year you couldn’t blame them for complaining about how hard it has been—yep the fifth year of drought declaration for most—but then 66 per cent of Queensland is still drought declared, and we are the lucky ones to have had a few showers of rain (a few millimetres only at a time), to freshen everything up, so no doubt there are people worse off than us.
So you won’t hear that complaint.
Instead, as I join with the communities, I hear various comment along the lines of—we don’t live in a warzone, we have family, friends, and a roof over our head—and we live in this amazing country so we’re pretty lucky. But we could do with a drop of rain—pray for a good wet season will you please?
And don’t forget our town businesses—they’re doing it tough too. It’s great when we are given vouchers to spend and help them along too. We feel we are doing something useful too. That’s a real good way of helping everyone in the community. Without our businesses, we can’t live here.
I find the people in this area amazing—resilient, innovative and resourceful—and they keep on, keeping on in what I think are pretty hard times.
This Christmas, please pray for all the communities experiencing or recovering from disasters of any kind, and if you want to help, make sure it’s good charity—the type that builds the community; a hand-up rather than a hand-out.
Rev Jenny Coombes
Longreach Uniting Church