Dear Inner Circle,

Welcoming a new life into a family, a tribe, a community and into humanity, with a special ceremony is usually a happy and beautiful occasion. Yet there are times when some try to manage the moment with such a fuss that tempers flare while the beauty evaporates. In the past few days, I’ve participated in several such ceremonies. One father was an outlaw bikie and at first glance, it was hard not to be taken aback. I must have been a prison chaplain for too long because when a face is heavily tattooed, my heart melts in a lake of lead. Thankfully, I was wrong again. I met a beautiful man who loved his family. We cracked jokes together and it was all going well until I asked which club he belonged to. I said, “Are you with ‘Deliveroo’ because that club seems to be everywhere lately?” I thought I was funny but it took me a long second to realise that outlaw bikies don’t joke much about their clubs.

At another such christening, a father greeted me reservedly, giving me the impression that he only reluctantly agreed to this religious moment. Within minutes he said, “You know I don’t believe any of this sh**!” Once again, I’m confronted with a character that thinks I’ll have some interest in the content of his cognitive propositions. I said, “Mate, I’m only interested to know if you believe in existence.” “What existence?” he asked. “Well, I’m interested if you really know that it makes a big difference whether you’re here or not.” I didn’t know at the time, but prolonged drug abuse had strained this marriage to breaking point. He spat some words at me. “How could that matter?” His question was confronting, and I was reminded of my aptitude for getting myself into a corner that I’d have been wiser to avoid. There is no argument to counter a, “Life is not worth living” statement. This fellow was well dressed, driving a nice car, living in a nice suburb, and broken. I said something like, “I’m sure this feels like the end, but look in the faces of these beautiful children you’ve made.” When I was leaving, the guy walked me to my car. By then he was surprisingly warm towards me. I assured him that I had no interest in converting him or requiring him to embrace anything religious. “The world has enough troubles without adding another Christian to it – but there are three beautiful kids in there that need you to show them what a good man is and what a good Dad is”.

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