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Showing posts from October, 2016

Ducks and Drakes

It is my day off so earlier today I drove out along the peninsula with a bag full of camera gear. I turned into the carpark at MacAndrew Bay, thinking that perhaps a leisurely coffee at a table overlooking the beach would be a good way to start taking photos but I had to swerve to avoid a great knot of ducks writhing its way across the tar seal. A young female, small and exhausted, was stuggling beneath a jostling mass of drakes, perhaps six or eight of them who were all striving to copulate with her. They grasped her and climbed on her, pushing each other aside, not fighting but careless in their single mindedness. I asked myself if I should intervene? Here was nature, red in tooth and claw, doing its normal everyday thing, and who am I to impose my anthropomorphistic disgust on a perfectly natural phenomenon? My inner struggle lasted about as long as it took to put the car in neutral and turn it off. I opened my door and approached them. They were so intent  that I got within an a

Codex Calixtinus

The Bay of Biscao: Basque Country.  I have been reading the Codex Calixtinus , or at least a translation of it and commentary on it by William Melczer. The codex was written in the 12th Century and is the first substantial record of the Camino Santiago. It consists of 5 short books which have independent origins but have been combined by an unknown editor/author, who has appended a pseudepigraphic introduction to each in the name of Pope Callixtus II. They are all to do with the development of the cult of St. James in the early middle ages. Book 1 is a collection of liturgical bits and pieces and Book 2 a collection of miracles attributed to the saint. Book 3 records the miraculous transfer of the saint's body from Palestine to Galicia and Book 4 is an account of the military expedition undertaken by Charlemagne and Roland who attempted to drive the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula. Book 5, the one which I am really interested in, is a pilgrim's guide to the Camino: the


Last Saturday I drove to Duntroon, to celebrate the 1700th anniversary of St. Martin of Tours in St. Martin's Church. On Sunday  I drove to invercargill to celebrate St. Luke's day in St. Luke's church. On Monday I drove to Nelson. 1500km in 3 days. I left home at 5.30 am. In Rolleston I called on Bridget, and Ada ran to meet me. I picked her up and she pressed her tiny body into my shoulder in the deepest, longest hug that a 1 year old can give. I stopped in Murchison in the middle of the afternoon and slept for a while, sitting in my car in the car park of a cafe, and got here in time for dinner. **** I spent Tuesday with my family. I sat at a table on the waterfront at Mapua for an excellent lunch of squid. I sat in my mother's serviced apartment in the Earnest Rutherford home and let her explain, again, a picture from her childhood. A group of my long dead kin stares resolutely at me from 1930: the men with moustaches and fedoras and rustic looking suits, the

A couple of poems

The conversation today turned to poetry and I was introduced to some poems new to me. One by Seamus Heaney who I was familiar with and several by Malcolm Guite who I was not. The Rain Stick - Seamus Heaney   Upend the rain stick and what happens next Is a music that you never would have known To listen for. In a cactus stalk Downpour, sluice-rush, spillage and backwash Come flowing through. You stand there like a pipe Being played by water, you shake it again lightly And a diminuendo runs through all its scales Like a gutter stopping trickling. And now here comes A sprinkle of drops out of the freshened leaves, The subtle little wets off grass and daisies; Then glitter-drizzle, almost-breaths of air. Upend the stick again. What happens next Is undiminished for having happened once, Twice, ten, a thousand times before. Who cares if all the music that transpires Is the fall of grit or dry seeds through a cactus? You are like a rich man entering heaven Through the ear of a raindr


I own quite a few Bibles, a shelf of them in fact, and every few years I get a new one which becomes my main, working Bible. The translation and edition of those first amongst equals copies of the scripture give a sort of map of my Christian path over 40+ years. My first Bible was a New English translation, reflecting my Methodist upbringing, but that was frowned on in Pentecostal circles so it was quickly replaced with a King James Version, a Schofield Reference Bible with the generally approved floppy black leather cover. At St. John's College I bought an Oxford Annotated Bible, Second Edition, which I still use and which bears the scars of  my long encounters with the text and with God. Since acquiring it in 1977, I have used it but it has been eclipsed for a while by, variously, The Jerusalem Bible, the New International Version, and most recently a third edition of the Oxford Annotated Bible, which now uses the New Revised Standard Version in place of the former edition&


Francesco Tuccio with one of his crosses in St. Paul's Cathedral, London, where is was recently received, blessed and installed. For some of this week I was in Alexandra, on the team of a 3 day Cursillo event. Cursillo is a lay led programme of spiritual renewal which has benefitted many thousands of people since its beginnings in Spain in the late 1940s. I was present as a Spiritual Advisor to the team of women and men from across the diocese who were running the event. My role meant I delivered a number of  short addresses and was engaged in several very deep conversations. I will write of this experience later in the week, but suffice it to say that I arrived home late yesterday afternoon, had a light dinner and then went to bed and slept for about 10 hours straight. **** 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 desti