ANZAC Mountaintop Experience

ANZAC Mountaintop Experience

The driveway of my house is far from being a mountain top. Everything around is flat and low lying, there is a creek across the road. Nevertheless, on ANZAC Day this driveway became a kind of mountain top. At 6am my phone beeped and up popped a picture of a candle in a driveway, and another in the driveway next door, and a few more down the street. My in-laws Merv and Jill have, like most of us been staying at home for all but the essentials. They had decided that they would light a candle in the driveway and remember ‘the diggers’ at 5.55am.

During the week beforehand a package arrived in their letterbox with a candle shield, poppy and order of service. These were made by the residents of the local aged care facility for their own service, and a neighbour who lives in their street in Wangaratta had put them in letterboxes up and down the street. This was a great example of how those in aged care, who are locked down, could bless their local town. The people of that street in Wangaratta, along with the rest of Australia, put out their candles and listened to the radio, or played instruments. My own household of three stood in our driveway. My son Charlie held a candle, my wife Sarah played the last post on clarinet. We live on a busy street and of the few cars which drove past, one car did beep (I assume that was in support), but there was mostly silence.

And then we hear it … faintly in the distance someone was playing the last post on a trumpet. I’m not sure if we could see a candle or not, it was some distance away, but we definitely heard the last post, then a silence, and then the reveille. Great to hear it from someone else, as well as from our driveway. The previous day I had a zoom meeting with some of the residents from Uniting Neurological Support Services where I also provide pastoral care. I said a few words, and we listened to the last post and had a moments silence before the reveille.

I haven’t been able to see these friends for more than a month, like everyone they are staying in, and not seeing their friends and family. This is hard for many of them, particularly those who have trouble communicating on the phone. Some of them were planning to go into the driveway and light a candle while listening to the radio too! Those who couldn’t get up early were remembering in their own way. Most if not all had a relative who had served in war, and after my short words we spoke about this. This group of people were especially keen to talk about their experiences, and what ANZAC Day meant to them. They were keen to be counted as those who observed remembrance, and those who were proud of the sacrifices made by those who went before them.

This ANZAC Day was a mountain top experience for me. Many special events have been changed or cancelled due to Covid-19. As a church we are continuing to ‘meet’ via the excellent online church resources, and our Zoom cuppa calls and other meetings over video conference. The church building is closed, but we are continuing to connect through technological means, including the telephone. It’s inspirational to see how we are still connecting, and on ANZAC Day we saw how the country can come together in different ways. I’m sure that there were more people up for a driveway service than would normally attend a local shrine service.

It’s great to see how we are all coming together and looking after each other in so many ways. We should remember how important we all are to one another in this difficult time. Covid-19 has shown us how much we rely on other people, just as earlier generations did during war time. We acknowledge those who care for us now, as we acknowledge those who protected us then and now.

Lest we forget.