Posted by: jkirkby8712 | February 7, 2011

Sunday, 6th February 2001 – Music from the Heavens [along with rain, thunder and storms]!!

After all the scenes over the past few weeks from Queensland, Brisbane, then northern and central Victoria, followed  by Queensland again,  it was almost inevitable, but still a complete shock, to see the pictures on the TV screens last night –  of the streets, freeways, railway tracks, houses and businesses flooded and under water – here in the south eastern suburban areas of ‘Melbourne’, and in parts of the CBD.  The huge thunderstorms that swept across much of Victoria  late yesterday afternoon and throughout the night, caused chaos, especially in parts of Melbourne with the  volumes of rain that accompanied them. It wasn’t un til late evening that the storms reached Sunbury, and I was rather grateful of that, and looking at some of the scenes of flooded roads, etc, was thankful I was not out in that weather. It seems that many of the flooded roads etc, were still causing massive traffic congestion late this afternoon.  I just have to repeat again  – the contrast between my entries of 12-14 months ago, when the decade long drought appeared as though it was going to go on, and rainfall was such a rare commodity – and now, we seemed to have been swamped with flooding rains [literally] since Christmas over much of Australia, with not even Melbourne been spared this time!

Those were my thoughts as I went to bed last night, with the news that a further belt of storms and heavy rainfall was expected to sweep across the state within the next 24 hours or so – thoughts that were disturbed by some clowns in the neighbourhood setting off some rather powerful sounding fire crackers. This is generally a very quiet neighbourhood, our home situated in a court, where under normal circumstances, any vehicles driving into our street at night would belong to residents of the court. So any kind of noise of that nature – which sounded much stronger than a firecracker – would be completely unexpected and out of the ordinary.

Sunday morning began as always – at 3NRG for my program of classical music for 2 hours. While I can’t claim that any night of the week is on average a ‘good night’s sleep’, Saturday nights in particular never seem to produce a decent sleep, for one reason or another, and last night was no exception!! But the news headlines this morning confirmed my concerns about the weekend’s weather here in Victoria  –   ‘VICTORIA SWAMPED – Storm havoc across state – Emergency grants announced – More wild weather to come’. Now, it is Gippsland’s turn, as thousands of residents in Victoria’s west Gippsland have evacuated their homes as the Bunyip River threatens to rise to its highest peak in 40 years. Victoria’s State Emergency Service (SES) says the river is expected to exceed the predicted flood level of 7.2 metres, above the 1971 flood record.Residents in the townships of Koo Wee Rup, Iona, Cora Lynn and Bayles and surrounding areas were advised to evacuate their homes by 9.30pm (AEDT) on Saturday or risk inundation and possible isolation. The SES said anyone who chose to stay in their homes risked becoming trapped in floodwaters, or cut off by road congestion or closures in the area. People are urged not to drive, ride or play in floodwaters.

The flood alerts come after emergency services received more than 3500 calls for help, people were plucked from rescues trapped cars and inundated homes, while several major roads and train lines were closed when the deluge began on Friday evening. In some parts of the state 100 to 150 millimetres fell in just a few hours, causing severe flash flooding. Some towns have been inundated by floodwaters even before they recovered from flooding that occurred last month [just two weeks ago], while in places like Creswick, about 16 kms north of Ballarat, they have faced their third flood in the town since September last!  We have a number of public tenants who come from that area, and Committee secretary, Russell, has already had his home inundated twice – I wonder if he was struck again, yesterday?

Meanwhile, up in Sydney, they are breaking records of a different nature!  As the following report indicates:- ‘Sydney has never experienced such consistently high temperatures since records were first kept in 1858. Sydney’s heatwave has shattered a 150-year-old record, but the big sweat isn’t over yet. In dozens of suburbs on Saturday the temperature soared into the mid to high 30s for the sixth day running and over much of NSW. As thousands flocked to beaches and the harbour foreshores to cool off, the mercury climbed above the 38-degree mark while Observatory Hill recorded a peak of 41.5 degrees. Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) senior forecaster Neale Fraser said that Saturday was officially the sixth successive day that the Sydney area had sweltered in 30-plus temperatures. Since records were first kept in 1858, Sydney had never experienced such consistently high temperatures. “We’ve had runs of hot weather for three or four days but you get a southerly change that keeps it below 30 then it warms up again,” Mr Fraser told AAP. The heat led to another spate of bushfires and more health warnings.

To perhaps rub ‘salt in the national wound’, over in Western Australia, one hundred and fifty firefighters and five helicopters are battling to control a bushfire that is threatening homes in Perth’s northeast suburbs. An earlier report indicated that the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) issued an emergency warning early on Sunday for Brigadoon, Baskerville, Millendon, Red Hill and Herne Hill, in the city of Swan. The fire, which started at 9.14pm (WST) on Saturday, had burnt 800 hectares by 8.20am. A FESA spokeswoman said there had been no reports of homes being burnt yet but they were being impacted by embers, as flames stretched higher than roof tops and spot fires started up to a kilometre ahead of the main fire. FESA said in a statement there was a threat to lives and homes and people were being warned they needed to act immediately to survive. If the way was clear people should leave immediately for a safer place and take their survival kits with them.

[As a subsequent unpleasant postscript, the overnight news would report that more than 40 houses were likely to have been destroyed as those bushfires remained out of control in Roleystone, in the Perth hillsand that number was expected to be revised upwards in the light of day. At least there were no reports of loss of life, as of late tonight.  However, at that point, neither of the two main fires outside Perth were under control, and unpredictable and strong winds were expected through to Monday morning.  It seems that at present, no parts of this continent are being spared any respite in the unusual and extreme weather conditions].

So just maybe, it is destiny that my music matinee this afternoon was to be entitled ‘Music From The Heavens’ – some attempt to balance all those other elements that the ‘heavens’ have imposed upon us,  The program in fact was not devised by myself on this occasion, but put together by my work associate who was to be my guest presenter for the afternoon – essentially something quite different to what I normally do, although the regular program itself makes a point of having a different format and genre of music each time it is broadcast. That has been my aim. Today,  it was to consist principally of music from the ‘different’ faiths from around the world – such as  music from Islam,  , a Siddha Yoga chant, Gregorian chants some traditional Christian music, Pentecostal hymns, and overall, an emphasis on the development of interfaith dialogues, and the  multi-religious nature  of some world programs these days, as especially revealed here in Melbourne. Perhaps I was going ‘out on a bit of a limb’ in presenting today’s format, but one of the aims of community is to allow all sectors of a community radius to have the opportunity to be heard. And although Mark was not of our community – he lives on the other side of Melbourne in one of our coastal suburbs –  the music that we were going to play today, is certainly representative of many in the community.

Well indeed we did – quite a wide variety of religious based music throughout the program. With the program basically prepared by someone else ’new to the business’, I had to be reliant on Mark’s organisation of what we were going to do – not everything ran as smoothly organised as I am used to, however the hiccups were minor, and overall it was a successful joint venture.  In addition to the music, we included a few other ‘chatty’ bits and pieces including a section of ‘inspirational quotes’  -here’s a couple of examples:-

  • ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work’ [Thomas Alva Edison]
  • ‘The journey of a thousand milers begins with one step’ [Miyamoto Musashi]
  • ‘Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the things you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover’ [Mark Twain]……………….Jessica Watson comes to mind.  And finally,
  • ‘I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing’ [Agatha Christie]

Mark had also brought along with him, a taped recording of an interview he did with a Catholic Priest, a few days ago –  the Rev Dr, John Dupuche, who was born in 1940 in Melbourne, to French parents who had come to Australia on business but were prevented from returning to France by the outbreak of World War II. During his young years, the family language and culture was French. He was ordained as a priest in 1974, and is currently a Parish Priest in the south eastern suburb of Beaumaris.   His particular relevance to today’s program was through his role as Chair of the Catholic Interfaith Committee of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, and his heavy involvement in interreligious relations. He had a particular interest in the interface between Christianity and Kashmir Shaivism  –  a branch of Indian thought that I had not previously heard of, to be honest!  Anyway, it was quite an interesting between Mark & the priest, with particular emphasise on the work that is going on these days to try and bring a lot of the separate religions and faiths closer together [including the Islamic faith] in more cooperative and sharing ways. Interestingly, Father Dupuche has recently established an interfaith household with a number of like minded representatives of some of these other ‘faiths’. Quite an interesting man. The taped recording of about 20 minutes was quite successful, the only problem being that both speakers on it did so with very quiet voices, and for all listeners to hear it clearly, some adjustment of the volume would be necessary.

As an interesting sideline to all of this, I noticed in one of last week’s local papers a notation about  our local municipality’s citizen of the year, viz; “Tibetan  refugee Thubten Loden was named Hume Council’s Citizen of the Year last week. Venerable Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden, 88, established the Tibetan Buddhist Society and helped establish the Peaceful Land of Joy Meditation Centre in Yuroke. He became a monk when he was seven and received his full training at Sera Je Monastery in Tibet before coming to Australia in 1976”.  Local recognition and acceptance of the work undertaken in our society by a representative of another culture and religion – excellent example to refer to during the program today.

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