A warm welcome today to my good friend Rob Kilpatrick, who wrote this reflection on Facebook yesterday and let me filch it for the blog. You’ll be glad you read it.
I’m incredibly lucky to be granddad to 11 wonderful kids. I don’t deserve to be but there you have it, grace upon grace.
I look at these two pictures and reflect on some things about my grandkids and others I know.
The three at the waterfall. We’d walked (well, truth be told, they’d skipped, jumped, run ahead and burst out to frighten me, while I staggered along and stopped, pretending to look at the great bush while I gathered my breath) for an hour through beautiful New Zealand bush amongst stunning kauri trees.
At the falls they splashed and enjoyed themselves. I thought of other pictures of other kids I’d seen in Burma at similar waterfalls. Not skipping, not enjoying. No, running for their lives. Chased by the demons of greed, power and oppression, dressed as soldiers and carrying the weapons of fear.
I hug my grandkids when I think about this. Hug them in thankfulness and reflect on those parents and grandparents who will never do this. Separated, dead, incarcerated, maimed.
I’m grateful, but that is not enough. I want to ensure other kids in other places like Burma can mindlessly and happily walk on tracks unafraid of mines and skip and dance in water without fear.
There’s another kid there at the waterfall. Her mum lets her get naked and splash with the others. I put my camera away. No accidental photos to make their way onto the internet and feed some perverted mind.
Yes, it can be a dark world.
But it can be ‘as bright as a button’ too. I look at this second photo. Reese. How the heck did he get to be five so fast? It was only yesterday I posted a photo of him new born to my dad who had the joy of seeing another great-grandchild. My dad died a few days later.
But here is Reese, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready for school. School that is compulsory and free for five- to 16-year-olds here. I think of those kids I know who will never get to school and who will never get a chance to explore the world more fully. Hiding in the bush, trapped in refugee camps in Lebanon, Thailand, Bangladesh, Syria or pushed to some little island by the big brave Australian navy.
Again, gratitude for what my grandkids have is insufficient. I need to be involved in change, in bringing shalom and ensuring justice.
What about you? How are you turning gratitude to something bigger?
Rob is an ageing PhD student interested in peace-building and challenging those entrepreneurial spirits amongst us to use their talents for something worthwhile. He’s been everything from builder to teacher to minister to development worker to CEO but hasn’t yet decided what to be when he grows up. He considers himself to be incredibly lucky to be dad to 6 great kids and 11 inspiring and life-threatening grandchildren.
For more ideas for changing the world, check out Lucy’s shared Pinterest board: Citizen of the Whole World.
For more from the Kilpatricks on changing the world in your neighbourhood, you might like to see Sam’s guest post on how his wife Laura supports newly-arrived refugees from a while back.
And for more Sacraparental, browse the categories on the right, and ‘like’ the Facebook page for daily nuggets.