‘Have you been here before?’ they all seem to ask, conscious that their corner of the world has not been high on the tourist bucket list. And I am revelling in being able to say ‘Yes, but not for 50 years.’ Papua New Guinea was even more remote from the jetset in 1968, but the schoolboy that I was then had indeed spent a fortnight or more on a tour with his father of the incipient banking industry of the soon-to-be nation. Many things I remember vividly.
Last August, I told a friend I was “allowing my days to unfold in their own unique ways”. I was feeling stunned and in absolute awe of the beauty in the natural world surrounding us, and my regular walks amongst the trees provided my safe and sacred space. “Here,” I said, was “where I entered a space of nothingness”, suggesting that perhaps this is what surrendering really looks like – a place where there are no goals or purpose, other than to rest and absorb the wonder. With no planning or agenda in sight I was free to ‘be’, hope and trust.
In October there will be a Synod of Bishops on the theme “Youth, faith and vocational discernment.” In March this year, as Sean-Patrick Lovett wrote, “Pope Francis opened the pre-Synodal meeting in Rome…with a provocation: “Too often we talk about young people without asking what they think,” he said. There are those, said the Pope, who tend to “idolise” youth, and others who prefer to keep young people “at a safe distance”, rather than allowing them to be the protagonists of their own futures. (The Vatican 19 March 2018).