Solstice


I will have my operation on June 21 - the solstice. Not that the solstice means a lot to me; just because the earth has got to a certain point in it's annual journey round the sun doesn't mean that I have to go dancing naked around a dolmen. I am, after all a hemisphere away from the nearest dolmen. And it's June. And it's Dunedin. The solstice does mean, though, that the year is exactly half way through, and it's a bit staggering to think of what has happened in this year.

In January my father died. For better and for worse he had a huge influence on the shaping of my life and so my family gathered in Motueka for his funeral and for a deeply significant time of talking and healing. Almost immediately I was a candidate in the election to choose a new Bishop of Christchurch. Episcopal elections are conducted in front of an employing committee of 150 each member of which feels obligated to comment at length on the candidates' belief system and pedigree. It's much like dancing naked around a dolmen, in June, in Dunedin, in front of a large and warmly clad audience. Then, even as the world was settling back into normalcy Clemency and I planned the sabbatical we had been anticipating for years. And just when it was all signed, sealed and on the brink of delivery my GP rang and asked if I could pop in and see him, first thing tomorrow morning.

The year is now half way through. It's time for the reserve to run onto the field with the plate of oranges and for us to swap ends with the team from the other school. It's time for the coach to stoop down 'til he's looking us in the eye and tell us to play the ball, not the man and remind us it's a game of two halves and it's there for us to win or lose, it's all up to us. At the end of the match there is likely to be the one about it not being whether we win or lose but how we play the game that's important.And that last speech is the true one, the one we didn't, but always needed to, truly understand.

This has been an interesting year, but it hasn't been an annus horribilis. It has been one of the most significant and powerful and affirming six months of my life. We learn not by addition but by subtraction. Growing into truth isn't a matter of acquiring new learnings, it is more a matter of removing old ones: of wiping clear the glass in order to let the light shine through. A lot of cloths and windowlene have been expended on me this year, and for this I am profoundly grateful. And I note with alarm, and excitement that the year is half way over. Only half way.

Comments

Anonymous said…
.... winter sunshine. light in the grey and the waiting time- in the winter.Profound and a profoundly beautiful photo again Kelvin. Bless you. gk
Anonymous said…
SOLSTICE

dawn creeps in
crystal clear
intrepid
yet
calm

endings
become
beginnings

savor this juncture
for the road ahead
is long
and arduous

but in this moment
all things
are possible

JS
Anonymous said…
SOLSTICE POEM

The thin monk shivers
on his cot tonight.

The dark eye closing
in the afternoon
opened just a slit today
between darknesses.

The lone Carthusian
walks his narrow cell
under the drumming
of winter rain.

His inner light
burns bright,
like crazy fire,
in solitude.

JS
Anonymous said…
Half way over or the better half yet to come? We will bring the half time oranges and try to help make the second half more promising than the first. Our prayers for you, Clemency and the family continue. Thinking of you lots. VMR
Anonymous said…
I like paradox.

All this talk of halfway reminds me of 'Zeno's Paradox'. It is a mathematical and logical problem.

If you only ever travel half the remaining distance you never arrive. No matter how small the distance left to travel, if you only ever travel half that distance you never arrive. We measure using numbers. Numbers are infinite. No matter how small the measurement there is always a half measurement.

Perhaps it's not a paradox, perhaps its a metaphor, perhaps that's why we are immortal. No matter how far we travel, it is a journey without end.

JS
VenDr said…
There's a version of that paradox which proves that a hunter can never shoot a rabbit. By the time the bullet has gone 100 yards, the rabbit has run an inch. By the time the bullet has gone the extra inch, the rabbit has run 1/100th of an inch. By the time the bullet has gone the 1/100th of an inch..... It's a lot like theology. It's unimportant that it doesn't work in practice, just so long as it works in theory.

Good poems by the way. Yours?
Anonymous said…
A good thing for Greek warfare and subsequent Hellenistic history that Alexander was taught by Aristotle rather than a disciple of Zeno. Can you imagine having to read the NT in Avestan? or discussing the dezoroastrianisation of the gospel?

Kelvin, praying with you and for you each day.
Brian
Anonymous said…
Kelvin, the poems are not mine, I downloaded them from the global neural network. For some reason they didn’t have the poets name on them. I’m glad you liked them.

Zeno’s paradox has always amused me because in my job we are told by academics that ‘theory informs practice’ and many dramatic reforms have taken place where it is apparent that it is our old friend Zeno again. My colleagues and I are often like so many harassed rabbits bounding away from ideological bullets hoping that Zeno’s theory works but bolting the armour around our rear ends as we flee.

The other interesting point about Zeno has to do with the limits of language in describing reality and the relationship of language to scientific hypothesis. It is mathematics that describes the physical nature of the cosmos. Language allows us to play games with mathematical meaning and logic. The test is, do the bullets hit the rabbit; yes they do and the traveler arrives at his destination and the rovers land on Mars.


JS
Anonymous said…
Brian,
A direct ancestor of Zeno was the lead soldier in the wooden horse at Troy, so watch out! - ( that’s not true actually, I made that up). Variations of Zeno’s paradox are found everywhere, even in theology and biblical historicism. There are ‘Trojan Horses’ everywhere.
I don’t have a nom d’ordinateur but I do have a nom de plume.

JS
Anonymous said…
Kelvin, I really like this statement of yours:

"We learn not by addition but by subtraction. Growing into truth isn't a matter of acquiring new learnings, it is more a matter of removing old ones: of wiping clear the glass in order to let the light shine through."

JS