Clemency and I were only gone a week, but somehow it felt like a month and for all the right reasons. For the first time in a year or more I felt I could let go of my role and forget about emails and just be. We stayed in the Australian club, which was very nice in a buttoned leather, chandelier, stripy wallpaper, tasteful paintings on the wall kind of way. They let me in, no doubt much against their better judgement, because I am a member of an affiliated club here in Dunedin. It was a pleasant ten minute walk from Nick's apartment, and within a few yards of the botanic gardens and art gallery and downtown, so it was all quite convenient and lovely. We did the usual sort of stuff, wandered about taking photos of things, rode the ferry to Manly, had picnics and held our baby. Which was also all quite convenient and lovely.
Naomi has sharp, intelligent eyes whose shape echoes her mother's Asian heritage and whose colour echoes her father's Celtic one. She has a well defined rosebud mouth, pale skin and auburn hair and her mother's fine, long, beautiful hands. She is set, in other words, to capture quite a few hearts in a couple of decades time as she has already done to her grand fathers' and yes I have put the apostrophe in the right place. She is growing up in the middle of a multi generational family; amongst people who will give her a gift beyond reckoning: the certain knowledge that she is loved.
I did my bit. I held her and talked to her and reacquainted myself with the duty of changing soiled nappies. And for a brief time, perhaps a quarter of an hour, I was rewarded with an amazing treasure: she looked at me and smiled and wordlessly enquired who I was. It is an affirming thing to be seen and known, but especially by someone so utterly undefended and pure.
I came home via Hamilton where I was scheduled to speak at the Waikato Diocesan synod dinner, and it seemed I had been away for months. I flew back into a sunny and crisp and green Otago feeling somehow older and bigger and more in tune with my context. It's amazing the way the world can shift in just one glance.