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Resolutions

  The evidence is there and it's not good. Most people break their New Year's resolutions. On average, people hold out 'til January 19, apparently although about 8% of people manage to abide by their self imposed strictures for a year or more.  We make New Year's resolutions because there's bits of us we don't like and because we fall for one of the most common misperceptions that people  have about themselves: that our failings are just a matter of  will power and that if only we had a bit of discipline we could all smarten our individual and corporate  acts up. Bah humbug, I say.  There's a French saying,  tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner . To understand all is to forgive all. This is profoundly true. Pretty much everything we do, we do for a reason. What trips us up is that a) our reasoning is faulty,  based as it is on inaccurate premises and incomplete information and b) our reasoning is usually completely invisible to us. So we notice that we
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Bees

Sometime back in 2018 I set myself the task of photographing a bumblebee in flight. I did this not because I especially liked bumblebees - though I didn't mind them - but because it seemed difficult. They were small and moved fast, and the process of getting a photo would improve my camera handling skills. And besides, we had plenty of them in the garden so I would be able to get in lots of practice. So I sat by the plants that seemed to attract them. I took hundred of pictures, mostly of blurry striped blobs or of recently vacated flowers. I watched. I learned - about the camera, the lens, certainly, but also quite a lot about the bees. And quite a lot about myself, which I guess was the point of the exercise all along. There were honeybees in the garden as well as bumblebees, so naturally I took a few snaps of them as well, but I didn't find them nearly such a challenge. They have clearly defined little bodies and they have a tendency to hover obligingly while the shot is tak

Sign, Symbol and Sacrament

  This is a sign in the door of a café in Finisterre. Finisterre means "The End of the Earth", so it's a kind of joke: the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe - Douglas Adams! Geddit? ...Oh never mind. Anyway, when I got to this place the café was closed, and had a sign on the door to say precisely that, but unless you read a little Spanish you might still try the door. That's the thing about signs: they are one dimensional and depend, for their effectiveness in communicating information, on a commonality of understanding between signer and signee. All across Spain we blissfully entered museums by the wrong doors, parked in the wrong places and queued at the wrong ticket windows because our commonality of understanding was somewhat impaired.  But there were other signs we encountered that didn't depend on language.  Like this one for instance.  Walking past this little chapel, on a mountainside at sunrise, I didn't have to ask what kind of building it was. B

The Comfort of the Resurrection

    When a photo appears capture it. Don't think you will come back later and get it, because it will be gone and that particular pattern of cloud and sea and rocks and sand will never be repeated. And don't think that something as limited and primitive as a camera is going to reveal  the coldness of the damp sand beneath your bare feet; or the sound of the oystercatchers warning each other that you might want to make an omelette out of their eggs; or the liminal stillness of the morning air before the wind rises. And that redness in the sky and the breadth of it - don't delude yourself that you are going to show that to anyone. All you can ever do is suggest.  **** Heraclitus was a philosopher who lived about 500 BC in Greece. He thought that the universe was not so much a thing as a process. We, and all the stuff we see about us are in a state of becoming. Nothing is constant and the apparent solidity of things is an illusion caused by the comparative slowness of some cha

Living the lies

In 1969, when I was 16 I left school and got a job as a labourer. My wages weren't high but to me they were a fortune and within a few months  I bought my first car, a 1938 Morris 8 sports, this one here. It had a minuscule 4 cylinder engine and a wood framed body which meant it was slow and it flexed so much when going around corners that the doors would sometimes fly open. Nevertheless I thought it was pretty damned cool, especially with the modifications I made to the muffler for performance and advertising purposes, ie, removing it.  Back then, the most popular TV program was The Avengers, in which the suave and resourceful hero, John Steed drove a 1928 3 Litre Bentley. Which looked kinda like my car, right? Yeah, right. Anyway, John Steed usually entered his car by leaping nimbly over the door, so I emulated him whenever possible. Now all this is preamble. I want to tell you about something that happened to me one day in Papanui Road, Christchurch. My car was p

Glory

  In April I began another pilgrimage: that of reading through the New Testament in Greek. It's slow going, what with me being such an abysmal Greek scholar and everything, but I love it. And, just as the slow procession across Spain, one small step at a time sees progress being made towards Santiago, so this morning, slowly, word by word, I traversed the great arc of the New Testament. Today I had reached  John 13,  part of that section in the fourth Gospel in which the author describes Jesus' commissioning of his apostles to act in his stead after he is gone. It's twelve men and a few  others in a largish room, and seems to take just long enough for a meal and a talk. And  I couldn't help thinking of my own, glorious ordination to the episcopate , a ceremony in a much larger room, involving far more people and a longer span of time. In my case there were a couple of hours of ceremonial actions. In the case of the apostles there was just one: Jesus stripped himself nak

Earth

Eve to Her Daughters by Judith Wright   It was not I who began it. Turned out into draughty caves, hungry so often, having to work for our bread, hearing the children whining, I was nevertheless not unhappy. Where Adam went I was fairly contented to go. I adapted myself to the punishment: it was my life.   But Adam, you know ….. ! He kept on brooding over the insult, over the trick They had played on us, over the scolding. He had discovered a flaw in himself and he had to make up for it.   Outside Eden the earth was imperfect, the seasons changed, the game was fleet-footed, he had to work for our living, and he didn’t like it. He even complained of my cooking (it was hard to compete with Heaven).   So he set to work. The earth must be made a new Eden with central heating, domesticated animals, mechanical harvesters, combustion engines, escalators, refrigerators, and modern means of communication and multiplied opportunities for safe