I am writing this just one day after the tragic Lindt Café siege in Sydney, in which three people died: the café manager, Tori Johnson, just 34; a rising Sydney barrister and mother of three, Katrina Dawson, just 38, and the assailant. Several escaped towards the end of the 17 hour-long hostage ordeal. Several others are wounded. You will know all this, for sure.
Lindt Café is right in the hub of Sydney’s CBD across the road from Channel 7, one block from St Mary’s Cathedral, two blocks from the NSW State Parliament. Martin Place, ironically, is where the war memorial stands and where remembrance is made to those fighting and dying in wars.
9.45 a.m. A person decides a coffee would be great, walks over, pops in, and enters a hell. One of my first reactions on hearing about it was to feel fear for every Muslim mother, father, couple, family, say, out shopping in some suburban High Street. But I wasn’t alone with that raw fear for them. Within a couple of hours, some bright girl put a plea on Face Book to offer company to any Muslims out there wherever, and #illridewithyou got picked up and went viral with a massive blog support and huge media coverage.
And within minutes of re-entry allowed to Martin Place this morning, the piles and piles of tribute flower bouquets from so many caring devastated people. And Sydney people have come together in their spirit to let those directly involved and their loved ones know that they stand alongside them and will stay there.
It’s appalling, with two young people losing their lives, he reportedly by trying to disarm the assailant, and she by shielding her pregnant friend from bullets. That is self-sacrificing love. And in time, even with the terrible loss, various new things, good things, real things will begin to emerge from the tragedy. But for now it is time for prayer, love and fellow-feeling.