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Showing posts from February, 2013


...I'll learn ya!" Brer Rabbit yelled. He took a swing at the cute little Tar Baby and his paw got stuck in the tar. "Lemme go or I'll hit you again," shouted Brer Rabbit. The Tar Baby, she said nothing. "Fine! Be that way," said Brer Rabbit, swinging at the Tar Baby with his free paw. Now both his paws were stuck in the tar, and Brer Fox danced with glee behind the bushes. "I'm gonna kick the stuffin' out of you," Brer Rabbit said and pounced on the Tar Baby with both feet. They sank deep into the Tar Baby. Brer Rabbit was so furious he head-butted the cute little creature until he was completely covered with tar and unable to move. We form an attachment when we develop the belief that our happiness depends on a particular person or a particular thing. Once the attachment is formed we are subject to two powerful emotional tangles. On the one hand there is a temporary buzz of pleasure whenever the object of our attachmen


Today was not atypical. I drove nearly 5 hours, 2.5each way for the sake of one conversation. I did fit one or two other small jobs in as well, but I wanted to talk to Penny Sinnamon about the future of the parish, Dunstan, in which she has been a local priest for a very long time. Dunstan encompasses a large swathe of Central Otago including the towns of Alexandra, Roxburgh and Omakau. It has several picturesque little churches, some of which are potential seismic risks and a declining population of Anglicans, although the population of not Anglicans seems to be doing just fine. The day was hot. The schist and tussock baked under an inky blue sky in that clear dry light so typical of Central. It was a pleasant few hours dancing the Subaru through the Manuka Gorge and past the orchards and over the Clutha to Penny's place. We sat in her kitchen and sipped lemonade while she gave me an analysis of her region, sharpened by a lifetime's residence there. She talked of the soci

Day Off

It's Monday and the harbour, a few hundred metres from my home is rippling in a light breeze. The low sun is back lighting clouds of small insects swirling over the water. It's time to drive around the bays and see if anything is crying out to be photographed. Nothing is really. Or nothing I haven't shot a thousand times before. There are boats sitting picturesquely above their own reflections and quaint old boathouses ditto. There are Southern Rata trees with the sun behind them and a clear blue sky and a flat horizon. But nothing to point a camera at, especially. I do notice, outside of the range of the gear I own, that  seabirds are gathering in a great moving cloud above the water: Black Backed and Red Billed gulls, Terns and Shags. No doubt there are schools of small fish beneath them. I stop to watch and am fascinated by the shags. They swim with their necks protruding from the water but with the rest of their bodies submerged, bobbing along as though a ship fu


I set out this morning to try and define attachment. Rather than use my own words, I've borrowed the following from Anthony De Mello. "Now if you look carefully, you will see that there is one thing and only one thing that causes unhappiness. And that is attachment. What is attachment? An emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without some particular thing or some person you cannot be happy. " "Has it ever struck you that you have been programmed to be unhappy and so no matter what you do to become happy you are bound to fail?" "Everywhere people have actually built their lives on the unquestioned belief that without certain things - money, power, success, approval, a good reputation, love, friendship, spirituality, God - they cannot be happy.... once you swallowed your belief you naturally developed an attachment to this person." "Who is responsible for the programming? Not you. It isn't really you who decided even


On Ash Wednesday I went for a walk on the beach. It was one of those silvery late summer days when the sand and the clouds and the sea all seem to be made of differently worked bits of the same stuff. There was a wind from the South, cool and insistently strong but also in an odd way, gentle and enfolding. I didn't want it to go around me; I wanted it to go through me and open me and unsettle me. I wanted it to turn me inside out and help me unattach. I had made my Lenten resolutions. This year I am not giving anything up; I am adding. As well as my customary morning meditation I have added another of equal length late in the day, and where my timetable permits, also one at noon. I have also added a daily reading from one of my favourite books, Anthony De Mello's The Way to Love. This Lent I want to let the wind blow through me; as much of it as I can stand, so it's as well to build into my life some more opportunities to stand in the breeze. At the end of the be


 My friend and colleague Dr. Gillian Townsley, the Chaplain at St. Hilda's Collegiate School in Dunedin played this as part of  her Ash Wednesday chapel service. It's worth a look.


Over the years I have paid attention to my dreams, sometimes more, sometimes less. I know enough about dreaming to realise that telling another person a dream is an invitation for them to see more of my inner working than I may be comfortable with , and perhaps more than I see myself at the moment. So, when I have recorded dreams they have gone into journals hidden behind lock and key or fairly robust passwords. But on Wednesday night, and a very few will know the significance of that day, I had a dream like no other I had ever dreamed in my life. I dreamed I saw a piece of paper, old and slightly yellowed like parchment. On it was drawn a perfect circle.  That's it. It seemed to me to be a very long dream, but as there was no story and no characters, and no movement, who can tell? It was one of those big dreams, whose import lingers well into waking consciousness. I relay it here not as an invitation for people to guess it's meaning but as a kind of record, perhaps mo

Being a Body

This picture hasn't got anything to do with anything. I took it when we were camped recently in Surat Bay. This last weekend I was in Auckland for the last of the hermeneutical hui that the Anglican Church has been holding over the past 4 years to address issues of Biblical interpretation as they apply to matters of sexuality. I hadn't been to any of the others, so didn't know quite what to expect. We met in Auckland's Holy Trinity cathedral, a quite lovely building that is, oddly, designed so that the best view in the place is the one from behind the altar. In other words, it doesn't draw the eye in toward the altar so much as lead it out, through the stained glass to the city beyond,  which is an interesting theo-architectural statement, and perhaps for the hui, a profound one. The past hui had addressed themselves to the usual Biblical texts used by those seeking divine authority for their views on sexuality. The arguments over those passages have all bee