Late last year in Queensland we had serious bush fires, mainly north of where we live.
“You can hardly see the town from the road,” my sister greets me. “The haze from the smoke is just awful.”
“It must be unbearable up north where the fires are. Straddie too, I heard. And the smoke’s in the air a lot here too,” I reply.
I look out at a blurred landscape. The once bright green trees are dim. Hazy.
For the past few days South-East Queensland has been shrouded in dust and smoke. We look sadly at the hazy landscape; it is the result of many bushfires burning ferociously, north-west of here. Fires rage day and night while firemen and others, even teams from interstate, fight the blazes. Aircraft drop water on the fires. But still they rage.
The mass of smoke and dust from our parched, drought-stricken land stings our lungs with acrid fumes. It heavies our spirits with the pain of human suffering. Television shows us sad families standing beside the ruins of houses and properties. Their faces show shock, grief, sometimes stoicism. The death of lifetimes of dreams.
Even beautiful Kenilworth is smudged out of focus with dust and smoke.
Photo by Elvira Meridy White
We sigh and pray for rain.
Looking at the smudgy landscape, I think of a verse in the Bible telling us we see through a glass darkly – this earthly life is like a haze hiding the intensity of God’s beauty from us.
Hazes form from all sorts of sources. At the beach recently I noticed the long gleaming strip of beach from Coolum to Noosa showed Noosa Heads at the end.
A few days later a thick salt haze had swallowed the headland.
I remember once when I was about fourteen, I sat on the side veranda gazing at the huge old magnolia tree.
Suddenly it seemed a veil lifted and I was aware of a realm beyond the world of my senses, a realm I could not see or hear. But I could sense it. It was real. A haze had departed from my spiritual awareness.
What lay ahead for me? I wondered.
It was like a call. A call to what? To be a writer? A musician? I had no idea, in our godless childhood world.
The veil slipped back and I picked up my notepad and began to write a poem to capture the feeling before it faded. The galvanised iron roof creaked and crackled in the summer heat as I wrote.
Many years later I read that verse in the Bible telling us that now we see through a glass darkly (or in a dim mirror) and later we will see face to face.
Through a glass darkly.
And through a haze faintly. Trusting that beyond the smudgy distance is the glowing reality.