Dear Inner Circle,

We’ve just had our grandkids with us for six days. We love these kids more than we love oxygen in the air, even though we feel rather old by the time they go back home. Isn’t it just true that life comes when the comfortable options that we’d normally choose, are not available? We have a natural attraction to the most comfortable of our options but it is a trap! Engagement, not just with kids but with community in any form, is rarely convenient. All real living is meeting and rarely is it a comfortable experience – actually if you’ve been reading my notes long enough, you might understand if I said, “all real living is meeting and it’s never an experience”. By the time you know how you feel about a meeting, the meeting itself is over. Life does not approach us from within but rather from without. Comfort is a characteristic of sleep. We sleep each night and life comes for us in the morning – it’s not always a welcome or well-timed event, at best it is a surprise – it’s a new day and we’re in it. Who of us would choose not to be woken? Life is an invitation that we can refuse for a more comfortable option. Those who generally get their own way, know little of life or freedom. Robyn and I are already counting the sleeps until we see our kids again and do our job…the only job of a grandparent is to “create happy memories”.

If I could have been anywhere yesterday on Anzac Day, I would have been at Villers-Brentonneux in France. It was just at this time of year in 1918 when in spite of the years of cruel fighting, things on the Western Front were as grim as they had ever been. Australia played a key role at this crucial moment of the war. The Brits at the beginning of the war had a less than glorious opinion of the “colonials”, especially of our leadership. At the end of the war there was no denying the leadership and courage of the Australians at Villers-Brentonneux. I won’t give you a history lesson here but it means so much to me that I stood on that ground when I travelled to Europe in 2016. I felt at the time that I stood there on behalf of thousands of grief-stricken parents who couldn’t afford to go and see where their family members fell. I’ve walked the battlegrounds of Fromelles and I stood at the old windmill sight at Pozierers. I’ve pondered the unthinkable. Lest we forget.

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