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Showing posts from December, 2011

Home Sweet Home

 Otago beaches. We're not short of 'em. I have driven 40,000 km this year, and sat in far too many aircraft seats. In the end, the thought of yet another flight  followed by a week or two in some rented room or other and days of eating commercially prepared food seemed more of a burden than a relaxation. So, we have been at home and Dunedin has co-operated very generously indeed: this is the warmest, calmest, driest summer that Dunedin has delivered since we arrived thirteen years ago. We have a comfortable house and a lovely garden. There are a score of beaches within a quarter of an hour's drive and a few, in fact, within a quarter of an hour's walk. We have a pile of DVDs, books and classy magazines. A few minutes away there is a vast shallow harbour and a boat shed containing a nice little sunburst . There is a jigsaw puzzle waiting for the rainy day which has, so far, failed to obey the forecaster's instructions and arrive. There is beer in the fridge and

The Reason for the Season

I must say I am heartily sick of the whole Jesus is the reason for the season routine that I am supposed to be spouting at the moment. Let's get real! In solidarity with my distant pagan ancestors, I  have a decorated tree in the corner of my living room and over the next few days fully intend to indulge in the ancient, pre-Christian practices of feasting, giving gifts and singing carols. What's more, I will be doing the whole darned thing on the Saturnalia,  December 25. We humans had been celebrating in this way for centuries before we Christians wandered into the festivities, looked around, liked what we saw and surreptitiously forged our name on the bottom of the ownership papers. Of course it is all a load of pagan nonsense, but that's the point really. Emmanuel. God with us. God fully present in the human condition, as much in the raucous celebration of the Saturnalia as in the witness of a peaceful sunset. As much in the worried crowds on Christmas Eve combing

A Sweet Little Chap

Last Sunday I preached and celebrated the Eucharist at St. Nicholas' Waverley. As is their custom (they have done this for all the bishops in recent history), they presented me with this: a little sugar bishop who looks remarkably like the old bloke in the mirror. He is, apparently, fashioned around a chocolate rugby ball, so the shape is very authentic indeed. My daughter in law makes beautiful cakes but I am absolutely certain she has never made a bishop. I will ask her how I can preserve it, as for a number of reasons, even though we are entering the sugar ingesting season,  I don't want to eat it. I am continually astonished at the kindness and generosity of the people of the Diocese of Dunedin, and last Sunday in particular, of the Otago parish and of St. Nicholas.


Yes I know that if you've had much to do with me over the past couple of months  I've shown you a thousand pictures of my grand daughter, but just before you nod off, here's one more. This one was taken about 6 weeks ago when she was two months old, and she is, as you can see, underwater. Her eyes are open, she is holding her breath and, so I have read,  if her mum were to let her go she would be able to swim to the surface in a completely co-ordinated fashion. Of all the photos I have of her this one maybe doesn't show off her cuteness as well as many others, but it fascinates me. How is she able to do this? She goes weekly, along with about a dozen or so other children of her age to swimming lessons, but nobody taught her the necessary skills to survive underwater; she was born with them. And this is the fascinating bit. Somewhere in the long evolutionary history of our species it was necessary for new born babies to be able to survive in the water and conseque

Red Billed Gulls

A few weeks ago I was sitting in a cafe in Sumner, idly looking out through the window at a flock of red billed gulls. Amongst the group of a couple of dozen or so there were two who were in the process of hooking up for the upcoming breeding season, and I thought of some lines from a song by Crash Test Dummies: How does a duck know what direction north is? And how to tell his wife from all the other ducks? Two pretty much identical gulls had decided that the other was the one they had been waiting for all their life and they were setting up the pre nuptial contract. To a non gull such as myself it was a bit mystifying how they had made their choice, and how they were going to maintain it for long enough to get the eggs laid; and indeed, which of them was going to do the laying and which of them the other bit. But they knew what they were doing. The first thing they did was to clear a circle of about two or three metres across of any other gulls, and they both policed their little

Soup for the soul

The more astute amongst you will have noticed nothing: ie the sum total of activity on here for a few weeks. Over the past month or so I have discovered new depths of meaning to the word "busy" which has meant that on my weekly sabbath I have been able to muster the energy to wander alone down an empty beach and drink in the strange quality of light as the weather shifts from insistent Northwest to sulking Southerly but not for anything else. It's nothing to complain about. I want things to change and many of the things I am involved about are because of present or imminent change, and it's all starting to ease back a little as the holiday season approaches. Yesterday I had a gentlerday. I drove to Invercargill, had a chat with a prospective ordinand, talked to a parish about a prospective new ministry arrangement, talked to a techie about a prospective change to the diocesan website and drove home again. In between chats I visited the soup kitchen at St. Johns