3rd January 2015
Two days after the tragedy occured, I visited the site of the Lindt Cafe siege with a small bouquet of flowers to offer as a memorial. Walking up from the station onto the street, the images I'd seen on the news were a reality in front of me. This had happened, lives had been lost and our city had been affected by an act of terror. At the site of the cafe was a row of flowers placed in tribute but there seemed to be no space to add my own offering. My boyfriend and I were ushered by police officers across the road, where we were told there was a designated space to lay our flowers. As we walked through the crowd, I gained a clearer understanding of the extent to which our city, indeed our country, has been moved by these events. Before me was a sea of flowers, thousands of individual bouquets laid out - each one only a small token of respect but together forming a monument to the two people who had lost their lives and those who were left to remember the suffering.
I walked around this sea of flowers, taking my time to read the messages written by others. Although there was a unspoken sense of sadness among the people gathered, while reading these messages I also sensed a collective spirit of love, courage and togetherness. For the most part, the response to this tragic event has not been anger, bitterness or fear. The messages, from people from all walks of life, spoke words of condolence and sympathy and encouraged our community to respond to acts of terror by standing together in love. I only hope that these sentiments continue when the immediate shock of the events have passed. I also found many messages expressing deep gratitude and respect for those two that lost their lives saving others. Bible verses were used on more than one occasion. There's something planted deep within the soul of humankind that moves us so profoundly when we see acts of self-sacrifice, someone laying down their life for their friends. As I placed our little bouquet into the still-growing sea, I thanked God for the good he was bringing out of this evil. Since then, I've prayed many times that through these events people would search for Jesus, the perfect self-sacrificial Lamb, and that he would find them.
Bella Hibbard is a new columnist for ACCatalyst magazine.