On a rainy summer’s day, my mum used to send us children to the attic. As an adult I now understand why. Ours was a small cottage, and we must have added considerably to the indoor noise levels.
We climbed the steep narrow staircase, one of us followed by the other, all the way up. I know attics are often the setting for creepy stories and a great place to stash crazy people in novels. But my childhood attic was by far the most delightful part of our summer cottage. It was a treasure trove of rare, full of fascinating objects like old suitcases, spinning wheels and fancy bird cages.
The ceiling was so low we had to be careful not to hit our heads on the rafter beams. Light cascaded into the loft through a small window at the opposite end of the stairs. The floor creaked as we crawled our way through to our comfy floor beds. The best part of being up there, was lying in bed, listening to the rain patter on the roof. It made a wonderful place to dream or to talk to God.
I woke up this morning to the news that due to significant rainfall thousands of Victorians have been told to evacuate, as floodwaters rise. I was glued to the television watching images of Maribyrnong River flooding.
Maribyrnong is a suburb of Melbourne, only 15 kilometres from the centre of the city. It was also the first ever suburb my family lived in and where I went to school, when we moved to Australia. I even heard our old street mentioned by name.
I kept listening to the news via a radio on the way to an appointment. They were telling people to evacuate, to move to higher ground.
I heard a story of a lady trapped on the upper floor of her home, having carried as much up as she had physically managed, just before the ground floor of her home flooded early this morning.
“Deciding to drive on a flooded road could be the last decision you ever make” I heard a policeman, on the radio, say. My car came to an abrupt stop. I was only a few blocks from home, but the road in front of me was totally flooded. In fact, there was no more road, only water as far as my eye could see. Lots of water, and ducks swimming in the water. The floodwaters in front of me might have appeared calm, but they were unpredictable.
What is it about the road closure, that prompts me to think of the uncertainty of life? Why is it that the current floods remind me of my childhood rainy days up in the attic?
Maybe it’s the thought of floodwaters permeating homes; like cancer invading bodies and accidents happening uninvited. It all makes life feel so random, erratic, and temperamental.
As I hear the call for people in flood effected areas to move to higher ground, I can’t help but, in my mind, climb the stairs of my childhood, to the safety of the attic. There I find my inner serenity and contentment again, just by talking to God, just like I did as a child
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