Sunday, 21 March 2010
Here we are home again, and Hawaii is fading away into the background as I come to terms with exactly how much needs to be done in the Diocese and how little time there is to do it. Hawaii is a strange place, sitting between two worlds like nowhere else I've ever seen. It is very American, with freeways and Hershey bars and Macy's and light switches that work upside down and those odd, shallow, flat toilet pans which give you more information than you ever needed or wanted to know. It is also very Pacific with reefs and coconut palms and earth ovens and pois and a language whose relationship to Maori is obvious and intriguing. Of course we only saw a bit of it: Oahu, at one end of which sits the city of Honolulu. Honolulu is like Disneyland without the rides: a city built on vacations and therefore on escape and fantasy. At the other end of Oahu is a series of small towns with plain architecture and tiny, tired shopping centres and steep, stark, buttressed mountains and gorgeous, golden sand beaches. People move slowly in Hawaii: cars half heartedly aspire to the speed limit and people on the sidewalks saunter about their business, which seems to consist largely of shopping and eating and sipping and wearing loud shirts. There are churches everywhere and there are military vehicles everywhere. Bright little birds dot the sky as do fighter jets. It is all paradox. Which is why, despite myself, I find myself drawn to this tiny Pacific state and wanting, one day, to return There is, after all, a great power in paradox for change and renewal. Perhaps this, as much s the weather and the beaches is what makes Hawaii such a magnet for those seeking re-creation.
Arriving home I find myself faced with the problems which I always knew were present, but which I now KNOW are present. The inspiring service of ordination is now a few weeks in the past, the guests have gone home and the holiday is over. Now there are some huge tasks ahead, and the resources to do them are...well... not huge. I can see that I could become overwhelmed by the enormity of what needs to be done and wear myself to a frazzle trying to get stuff to happen.I don't think that would help anyone. There is paradox here also, between what we are called to as a diocese and where we are now. Of course, while we can, on some intellectual level, see its power, paradox is uncomfortable and there is a voice deep inside somewhere telling us to avoid it; to decide and act and for goodness sake just do something.
It would not be helpful to obey that voice. Ssomething else is required: to sit with the paradoxes and live with them for a while. Just as the power of a story derives from the tensions between irreconcileable opposites, so there is a power which comes from these seemingly intractable dilemmas. Perhaps in this place of tension and opposition Jesus is present as he was in the raging storms on Galilee so long ago. If we are floundering about trying to batten down hatches and strain at oars and prepare for the next storm which we just know will be happening along at any moment now, we will miss him quietly and calmly sleeping in our midst and perhaps miss the new thing he is trying to lead us into.