Day 165 of 366: Blog Challenge 2012
Azaria Chantel Loren Chamberlain
(11 June 1980 – 17 August 1980)
This is the story of a little girl who lived, and breathed,
and loved, and was loved. She was part of me.
She grew within my body and when she died, part of me died,
and nothing will ever alter that fact.
This is her story, and mine.
… from Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton’s website (and book)
I never thought Lindy Chamberlain murdered her daughter. I remember where I was at the very moment I heard on the radio that she had been convicted of the murder of Azaria.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. I could not see that a woman who was thought of by all as a wonderful mother, (and there was nobody who testified to the contrary) could decide to cut the throat of her child in a car whilst cooking tea and then stuff the body in a camera bag! Oh, and then clean up the blood – all in five minutes.
It made no sense at all. Sure, their behaviour with the press may have seemed a little unusual at the time but that doesn’t make these people murderers! I believe that in their efforts to show the world their own brand of Christianity and the peace they felt, they went a little over the top. Even Lindy acknowledges this now.
So, I have followed this case from 1980 when, as a young mother with children of my own, my heart grieved for Lindy at the loss of her child. My heart became even heavier when she had another child – a girl – and that child was taken away from her too – for most of the next three years anyway.
I think I will always remember where I was yesterday when I heard the announcement which ended the final chapter in the saga of the death of Azaria Chamberlain. Here is how the Sun-Herald website put it:
“Northern Territory Coroner Elizabeth Morris told a packed courtroom in Darwin that a dingo or dingoes were to blame for the August 17 attack at Uluru which originally saw Ms Chamberlain-Creighton jailed for murder and Mr Chamberlain given a suspended sentence for being an accessory after the fact.
Both were later exonerated after a royal commission in 1987 … The decision will mean that Azaria’s death certificate will be immediately changed from “unknown”. “
So today I wanted to write about Lindy Chamberlain Creighton and allow this last chapter in the life of little Azaria to be aired out in the blogosphere. And I wanted to write about Lindy’s inner journey of faith and forgiveness which was the way she choose to handle the injustice that she faced.
In her book “Through My Eyes” published in 1990 (now an eBook called “A Dingo’s Got My Baby“) Lindy writes that you think you have faith when things are going fine; you think you are tough but … “it is only when your faith is tested that you know whether you have any or not.”
She goes on to say she had been inspired throughout her ordeal by a 14-year-old girl called Mary Durand who was imprisoned for her faith in the 18th Century in the Tower of Constance in France. She scratched “RESIST” deep into the stone wall. Lindy mentally created her own wall and saw RESIST written in it, especially when she was told “if you give up your fight for innocence and say you’re guilty, you can go home.” She wrote:
“I knew that resistance to temptation, resistance to all that was falsely offered was the only way to keep one’s self-respect, one allegiance to God and one’s own character.”
What an amazing woman Lindy proved to be! And so she survived her almost three years in a prison in Darwin (with hard labour), a six-hour flight away from her loved ones in New South Wales. I love what Lindy writes in the last chapter of her book when she speaks of her faith:
“… I learned, oh so many times, never to tell Him He could have my life if I was not willing to give it. Never to tell Him that my children were His to look after unless I was prepared to accept the way he thought best for them…”
Yesterday, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton said she was writing another book at present … on forgiveness. I am not surprised! She went on to say she has had to forgive everyone who wished to harm her for her own sake and not necessarily for theirs.
Today, I want to pay tribute to Lindy for what she (and Michael too) have endured. She has not let these last 30 years make her bitter, but has held her head high and earned respect in doing so and I am sure her inner journey of faith will amaze us when we hear it.
In 1990 her pain was palpable as she wrote: “I cannot begin to count the personal cost of the last ten years. The cost has been so great, and mere words just scratch the surface. they do not touch the deepest hurt, which cannot be expressed.” And worse was to come in 1991 when her marriage to Michael broke up also.
However, yesterday she said: “I choose to dwell on the happy memories and not on the pain.” I will leave you with the words she said next:
“Dwelling on the pain is only something that those who wish you harm hope that you will do. They want you miserable. I don’t wish to be miserable. That is why I learned what forgiveness really is and put it in to practise.
Forgiveness is for yourself, it puts the responsibility on those who hurt you, and lets you get on with your life … I have taken back control of my own life and head space and move forward. I am moving forward, not looking backward.”
Well done Lindy! They say that the best ‘revenge’ is a life well lived.