In the dark hours of Tuesday evening Fr Greg Barker, who spent six years serving full-time as a chaplain in the Royal Australian Airforce, came up with an idea to turn his despair into a sign of hope.
Fr Greg, who flew in and out of war zones during his time in Iraq in 2004, yesterday wrote to the Boolaroo-Warners Bay Parish inviting them to light a candle with him. His letter is below.
Dear Parish Family,
I don't really know what to do about Afghanistan and the humanitarian crisis I see there or how to respond to the veterans who sacrificed so much there in the last 20 years.
But this is what I am going to do for now:
This Thursday night (19 August) at 6 pm, I will light a candle in the darkness for the women and girls there - a light in the dark for what may lay ahead for them. For centuries, families have lit candles in their windows to show travellers the way home. This act demonstrated that there was still hope, as small as it might be when all seemed lost. So I am going to place my light on the steps of the Boolaroo Church.
And then, Friday night (20 August), I will do the same at 6 pm for those veterans among us who might be feeling that their service there, and the sacrifices that were made, were for nothing. The light will symbolise that nothing we do for others, freedom or peace, is ever wasted.
On Saturday night (21 August), I will light a candle for all the Christians and people of other faiths in Afghanistan, who will now be in dire circumstances as the militants sweep through.
After that, I'm not sure. You might like to light a candle at the same time and join with me in a few moments of prayerful silence or prayerful non-silence if you want to pray a few prayers. Take a picture of your candle, and I will share it around. You can be in the picture or not. It means something, either way. One light or a thousand it won't matter - it's the solidarity in prayer that matters. And for our veterans, maybe that they and their service matter to us.
If you would like to email a picture to Fr Greg please email it to Parish.Boolaroo@mn.catholic.org.au