We are on the last leg now. Since All Day Bay we have been heading inland, and we continue for another 3 days until we reach Kurow on Saturday afternoon. This evening we met with the people of this lovely village for a pot luck dinner and I spent some time talking with a local farmer who has walked the Camino Santiago twice. As we talked I thought again of one of the characteristics of the Camino, that it draws you into a constant engagement with Now; how very early in the walk you begin to live entirely in the present. I realised that this has also happened on this hikoi. I know we will shortly be finishing but the end still seems remote; what is important is this piece of land, these people, this process of engaging and dining, and the furthest ahead we are thinking is tomorrow and the arrangements for meeting and starting in the morning. Performing this symbolic action of walking has, in other words, a profound effect on us who are making the journey.
I know that this engagement with the now is only possible because Benjamin Brock Smith is thinking ahead for us, and making the detailed decisions on how the week will unfold, particularly the events around the closing of the Hikoi on Sunday afternoon. It sounds like an exciting event. We have been given the use of the lower Octagon. We will have live musicians including the incomparable Mark Wilson who has written a hymn especially for the event. We will release 200 balloons (biodegradable environmentally friendly ones) to mark the 200 years since Samuel Marsden and Ruatara. I will speak and my address will centre on the post resurrection appearance of Jesus on the beach, as recorded in John 21. At that meeting Jesus shared fish with the disciples and we too will share, with anyone who is there, a meal of fish and chips. We will conclude with evensong in the cathedral.
This has been a transformational event for all of us who have walked, and I expect that our closing service will reflect that. I hope that many can be present to celebrate together, eat together and worship together as we mark the transition from the symbolic action of the hikoi to the lived action of the Diocese's continuing life.