After a long mild autumn the Winter has arrived and seems intent on making up for lost time. We had five consecutive days of heavy rain with floods in all the usual places where, in aeons past, bogs and lakes used to live and now want to return to check out the old family home. Then, in the high country at least, there was some snow. On Monday, a day off after a busy weekend, I drove up to Naseby to try and find some, and was not disappointed. There was snow knee deep beside the road all the way through the Pig Root and fog and hoar frost. In the fog free bits the sun shone brightly out of an inky sky onto a vast white landscape: my very favourite kind of weather, cold, clear, sharp, huge, still. This is the Maniototo; Middle Earth; Tolkien landscapes that need no photoshopping in order to flabbergast the punters.
There was a stop or two for photos, and a swift trip down a back road into Naseby for lunch in a quaint little cafe. I learned that the new car can handle with panache a)black ice b)dirt roads and c) snow. I drove home rested and pleased with the day, to digest the lessons of the weekend and to face the conversations of this week.
Our diocese is not without its challenges. If we are to grow into the future, there are changes to be made in the way we organise our common life together and these must be implemented soon. We have one or two complicated pastoral and organisational problems which clamour for my attention. We have vacancies to be filled. We need to find a new generation of leaders. The weight of it all sits heavily at times, but the good will and optimism of the people I met in Winton on Sunday is what fuels me. That, and a few precious hours spent alone in the vast and timeless land