Here we are, 3 days into December and still with an extra duvet on the bed and the heat pump running. Autumn is passing but the Summer is not quite here. I'm in an odd limbo time between the known and the unkown and it seems the weather has come out in sympathy. I have been down to Invercargill a couple of times, meeting people I already know quite well, letting them and me work out the beginnings of a new relationship. A couple of days ago I sat with a group of them, bouncing ideas around, trying to think about what might happen. Some of the ideas were great, and one or two of them will probably happen, but it wasn't really a time for plans and actions. It was the meeting and the talking that mattered. I drove home through the Southland Plains feeling energised and excited about what lies ahead.
Richard and Hilary Ellena dropped by on Wednesday. Richard is a friend from a long way back, although I haven't talked to him much since he was made Bishop of Nelson about 3 years ago. We had dinner and a bottle of wine and caught up about old and new times. I've talked on the phone to David Moxon, and had an hour with George Connor just before he left, but this was the first time I've had a chance to sit down and really talk with someone in the same line of work. It was affirming and a relief.
And yesterday I talked with Murray, a sort of a parishioner, though more of a friend. He lent me a paper he has written on bibliodrama, which begins,
By nature we all want to be seen and heard and valued for who we are. We hunger for this, this is our human condition, we are wired for this from birth. To love the other is a central axiom of the Christian faith... by authentic encounter we mean those moments when I recognise and value you and you recognise and value me and we actually see one another...
In this Wood Between the Worlds I'm trying to listen carefully to find out how to proceed when I emerge into a different life at the end of February. I think Murray has nailed it. The Gospel is about God's seeing us and knowing us and accepting us with an absoluteness that is nothing short of reckless. To know we are so loved is to be melted and remade so profoundly it is like a new birth. In this new life seeded in our encounter with the Thou who is always seeking us we are called, in our turn, to see and to know and to accept. The community of those who are attempting to grow into this is the Kingdom of God. I caught a glimpse of it a few times this week: in a little industrial cafe in the bowels of some glass university building, in my dining room and in the parish lounge of Holy Trinity Church, North Invercargill. And it is this, rather than any amount of plans and actions and designs and schemes that I know I am called to promote.