Over the course of my life, I have bought many hundreds of raffle tickets – maybe even thousands of them. I am a sucker for a fund raiser that has a flutter attached. Blame my Catholic upbringing in the era of raising money to build all those churches. In Primary school, I was familiar with ‘Games Nights’ – my favourite game was Crown and Anchor, though destined to be a frequent loser. (We were not allowed to hang out at the table with the higher priced adult games). We thrilled with the impressive need not to tell people where we were going, with the conspiratorial nods between the adults to the nit-keeper out in the front garden of the house. We all knew he was Mr M…. well, I can’t bring myself to dob, to this day.
I think in the ensuing sixty years I have won three things. One was a Christmas cake (3rd prize) thirty years ago. There was a problem with this win. It was left on our front doorstep without a note, just wrapped in Christmas paper. We were mystified. We thought it must have been a neighbour making a lovely gesture, so somewhat awkwardly, we embarrassed ALL our neighbours by asking them if they had been the donor. It eventually emerged it was from a long forgotten ticket in the local Primary School’s Christmas raffle.
The second win about twelve years back, really is hard to count as a pure win as I had bought nearly all the chocolate eggs, for our school’s Easter basket raffle to raise funds for a camp, and then bought nearly all the tickets too. Nonetheless a feast of chocolates is definitely a Good Thing, especially when your class goes home with a bag each to share with their families. Some families of course, may be surprised to know they nearly had Easter eggs… there was a little school bus journey involved.
About a fortnight ago, the SA Writers’ Centre sent out an email offering a free double pass to the Kev Carmody documentary in the Adelaide Film Festival. Now I keep Kev Carmody on my spare list of people to fall in love with, if ever I am crossed off the list of my old mate. There was no room for a doubt. I admit I was shamefully fast as I hopped on to the computer, and that I wrote one word only in the body of my application: Please! Whether it was chance, or someone was impressed with my eloquence, I WON THE TICKETS.
On Sunday we two Olds hobbled off to see the Doco.
It was a good fortune indeed, but not in the way you might think.
The first surprise was that there was an introductory short film that was set in Mimili, where one of our daughters worked a couple of years ago. We had intended to visit while she was there, but her plans were changed by a nasty car accident and we never made it there. This gave us back the opportunity to understand more of her life and experience, but far far more than that as we sat with the whole of what we were seeing.
The landscape of Mimili is beauty on beauty. The colours are rich and filled with the millions of years of sun and light. The quality of the film was so strong that I could feel the dust in my nose, feel the warmth on my skin, feel the deep soft red of the road….and maybe the bindis too. The town sits in the arms of low hills that seem to hold and bless it in the light. (Our daughter cried when she read this, and says she misses it badly).
The documentary was an interview with two young men, Mark and Zibeon, who had been away to high school in privileged situations in Adelaide, but who had both chosen to return home. They each explained their reasons: in a nutshell, family, place, culture. They were both glad they had had the chance to explore another world, to learn how it works, to have new experiences and to make new friends. One returned after six months when his father became ill, and his sister needed support to care for the family. The other finished Year 12 but said he wanted a gap year, just a different kind of one. (He has now almost qualified as a nurse after three years of study.)
When I looked at that country and heard those strong young men speak of the way they yearned for their families and their culture, and of their desire to learn and pass on the wisdom of the past to the future generations, I was envious. What a world to live in, in every way!
It makes our hearts sing, to know that our eldest son, stolen only days after his birth, has regained his place in the ancient desert world, and loves it. He is in his right place at last. For all of us, a circle is complete. We know how fortunate we are. So many others never got that ending to their story.
The Kev Carmody documentary was just as good as we had hoped but that story will keep for another day. (If I miss telling you about it, watch out for it on ABC TV early next year).
The film about Mimili, Zibeon and Mark was a different sort of good fortune because it was unexpected and unsought, arriving in our laps through serendipity, or if you will by sheer grace.
This film in the old Masonic Lodge building, was the common bush afire with God. This is where today I take off my shoes.