"Our Hearts Are Broken But Our Will Is Strong" *

Eyes flow tears as my country floods. Yet these tears are never enough to express the compassion I feel for the devastation of my beautiful country and the suffering of my country men and women.

Australia – my brutal land of raw and unrelenting beauty has had mother nature unlesh her fury in flooding that ravishes our bounty. ‘Our hearts are broken but our (your) will is strong’ words spoken by the female premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh, in public when the flooding in brisbane reached its peak, reverberate in my mind.

This flooding overwhelms my sensitivity as I am sure it has many Australians and friends of Australia. And it has seen me with writers block for the first time in my life. Sometimes words are not enough. This is one of those times. So this is no literary masterpiece but instead a fumbling of random words reaching for an expression of sorrow that cannot be expressed. But still I reach for the words my spirit demands me to do so.

Why?

We look for answers but there are none. Mother nature could and she did. A catastrophe like this has a higher costs than the obvious. The human costs, the animals, the economic, the social, the emotional, … As the Australian people roll into a state of post trauma, my state Victoria, my old state NSW and the state of my mother and brother Queensland (my own for two years) have experienced flooding to varying degrees. In Queensland over 75% of the state, the size of France and Germany combined has been covered with flood water.

In a time like this my mind turns to the Aussie Character. The brave ‘Little Aussie Battler’ comes to mind. The Aussie Battler picks themselves up from the dirt when knocked down and keeps fighting no matter what the odds. And they do this over and over again. I think the community spirit here and our tenacious support and encouragement of the underdog (the one that is losing or suffers) means that we pull together as a community in crisis to lift those who have suffered back up to solid ground. But what happens when we as a country are all Aussie Battlers, all underdogs, will we have the strength to lift each other up?

If we believe the words of female, Queensland Premier, who with strength and compassion, vision and action, leads by example to draw on the strength that resides within, we will definitely be able to do this. Her words are a call to action – first to weep, to heal , and then come together to rebuild our broken hearts and land. Tears have flowed, tears will continue to flow into our flood waters as our female leaders speak of loss and strength and shed her own tears in public. But to rebuild first we must grieve. The cycle of grief is a test to our Aussie battler spirit in the Country that supports the underdog and cuts the tall poppy.

Today, 26 January is Australia Day. This is a day that we as Australians celebrate our wonderful country and all that is Australian…from mateship to our golden beaches to our red desert heart to our magical reefs to ‘put another shrimp on the barbie’. For me, it is a day to reflect on the Australian Spirit. I admire the understated beauty, the honesty, the humbleness of the Aussie spirit and the mateship that Australians feel as they reach out to support those in need. As we sweep up, clean up as the flood waters fall our tears turn to recovery and to rebuilding our farming land, our country towns, our city Brisbane. We become a country of alchemist finding new ways to rebuild and new ways to be and as we do this we will mourn and heal.

Lest we forget just how fragile we are.

© Anthea Slade 2011

"Our Hearts Are Broken But Our Will Is Strong" *

Anthea  Slade

Carlton North, Australia

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Artist's Description

‘Our Hearts Are Broken But Our Will Is Strong’ featured in Lifeline on the 27 January 2011.

Over the past three weeks, overwhelmed by the devastating and catastrophic flooding in my country Australia, I have struggled to write down some thoughts and feelings about the enormous loss and grief so many of my fellow country men and women have experienced.

Today, because it is Australia Day, a day to celebrate all that is Australian, I thought I would bring it together to try and express my compassion and admiration for the people of our beautiful and brutal land Australia, and my deep admiration of the community support and the Aussie Battler spirit that is being displayed throughout my country as we face one of the biggest challenges in our countries history.

‘Our Hearts Are Broken But Our Will is Strong’* was written 26 January 2011 (Australia Day)

With love

Anthea Slade

(The title is a quote spoken by Anna Bligh – Premier of Queensland as the flood waters in Brisbane were reaching their peak)

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