Last Sunday the crozier, ring and pectoral cross I am going to use were blessed and laid on the altar of our Cathedral, waiting for Saturday. And I too, have been trying to lay myself on the altar: a living sacrifice
The last few days have been a time of reflection. Rather than go off on retreat, I decided to stay at home in order that Clemency could have some part in my preparation, so I had a sort of a retreat in situ. Apart from yesterday when the phone and doorbell didn't stop ringing, it's worked out pretty well. I managed to fit some lengthy meditations in around the daily offices and every day I went to the beach and did a walking meditation. I also read large chunks of two very good books: Anthony De Mello's Walking on Water and Stephen Cottrell's Hit The Ground Kneeling. The latter is a very wise take on leadership and maybe should be required reading for ordinands. But it is the late Father De Mello who has spoken to me most profoundly. Walking On Water is another of those posthumously published collections of De Mello's retreat addresses. Each piece has the unpolished style of an informal address transcribed from a tape recording, which gives them a certain charm and a great deal of directness. Together they make a single, persuasive, surprising case for the inner life. He has a wonderful ability to produce a metaphors or stories which make complex theological concepts accessible; for example in talking of the intricate question of transcendence and immanence he says, " In the East we say 'God created the world. God dances in the world.' Can you think of dance without seeing the dancer? Are they a single thing? No. They're two, and God is in the creation like the voice of a singer in a song."
So, in the times when I am not working at silence, I have allowed his words to rattle around in my head and lead me a little closer to the truth.
A couple of weeks ago, the Oamaru sculptor Hugh Prebble gave me the pastoral staff he had carved out of a long piece of kauri. It is an extraordinary object, quite unlike any other crozier I have ever seen. It is complex and intricate and, in a way, imposing. Everything carved on it is there for a purpose. From the base, there is a flow, up from a foundation in scripture, through the water of baptism, into the fire of the holy spirit and into the curve which symbolises the episcopal ministry. The centre of the staff is a three stranded cord, which speaks of the Trinity and a large Celtic Trinitarian knot is wound around the curve, and seems to be organically fused with it. All over the staff there are little surprises to find: symbols and icons which speak of the Gospel and of this part of the world. To further emphasise the unique character of our diocese, the carving draws on Maori and Celtic styles.
Today my sister Valerie arrived, with the cope and mitre she has made for me. The cope is made from light coloured silk and the hood has been constructed in rich colours by Margie- Jean Malcolm to a design by Audrey Bascand. The design is similar to that of the St. John's parish banner and is based on the first chapter of John's Gospel. Val has tailored the cope to fit me and she has done an extraordinary job.
So all the bits and pieces are gathered. The preparations are nearly complete. And I am ready.