Francesco Tuccio with one of his crosses in St. Paul's Cathedral, London, where is was recently received, blessed and installed.
****This afternoon I went to Mornington Methodist Church to be present at a service of dedication for a Lampedusa Cross. Lampedusa is a tiny island a few miles off the coast of North Africa, and the destination for many of the refugee boats leaving North Africa. A carpenter on the island, Francesco Tuccio, has been heavily involved in the rescue of the many thousands whose insecure craft come to grief in the treacherous waters surrounding the island. In an attempt to make the plight of refugees more visible he has crafted crosses from the timbers of wrecked refugee vessels and these have found their way to many places around the world. Today we received one in Dunedin in a brief service in Mornington Methodist church. I read a prayer written by an old friend, Archbishop David Moxon
O God of the seven seas and of all who venture forth on the great waters
Look with your love and saving grace on all who are in peril on the sea,
come to the assistance of the lost, the last and the least
who risk their lives in small boats looking for a new home
free from tyranny and oppression.
use us as willing agents of your compassion and help.
may your cross and resurrection speak to all who suffer
and all who mourn the loss of loved ones drowned.
may the Lampedusa cross witness to a life that is stronger than death,
and a calm that stills the raging waters.
I have never read the Koran, but I have always intended to. At the service I sat next to a member of the Dunedin Muslim community, who had just read from a large, beautifully bound, and, by all evidence, new and expensive Koran. I leaned across and asked for his advice on buying a Koran. Unhesitatingly he said, "Here, take this one. It is yours." I was gobsmacked. Flabbergasted.
This is not the first time I have been humbled by the generosity, kindness and hospitality of Muslim people. I came home with this extraordinary gift, pleased to be able, at last, to read it.