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Showing posts from December, 2016

George the Mouse

Ada playing in the Clearview Primary School grounds Photo taken with Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone My Grandchildren teach me so much because they are open, simplified exemplars of the processes at work within myself. My own pretence at sophistication masks the fact that I have not actually arrived anywhere; I am, like them, in process and their learnings are only slightly less complicated versions of the stuff which occupies my own intellectual and spiritual explorations. 6 am and there is the usual knock on the caravan door. Noah has got himself out of his bed in the house, and is making his customary early morning call. Clemency stumbles up to let him in, and he climbs into her sleeping bag. He lies there quietly for maybe 5 minutes, and then there is a pattern to be followed. I will play a game which involves a conversation between me and Beebop (Noah's constant companion: the faded, battered, stuffed  rabbit which is exactly the same age as him) in which I  have to

Christmas Tree

You know it when you see it. It has to be symmetrical and nicely dense but with enough gaps in which to hang things. It has to reach the ceiling which, depending on the house, means it's going to be broad. It has to be a pinus radiata , otherwise it won't smell right. All the really good ones have been taken days ago by the people who put them up way too early, but our tree will be there, somewhere amongst all those misshapen or badly coloured pines; we just need to keep looking. **** Who knows why we have Christmas trees? Pagans used to put evergreen branches into their homes during the Saturnalia, but the first record of a Christmas tree  as we would recognise one, is from France in 1576, which means there is about a thousand years gap between its appearance and the last popular practice of the Saturnalia - which seems a pretty big chasm to jump. More likely precedences are the Adam trees which were used in medieval passion plays, decorated with apples (for the Eden sto


This large space spends most of its life as a basketball court, but tonight with the chairs laid out in neat rows and the hoops folded up into the roof it is the space for celebrating the achievements of the pupils of St. Hilda's for the year. The ceremony is about 2 hours long, but I have always quite enjoyed it, and tonight will be my last one, ever. There are speeches, and two groups - a country rock trio and a classical duo - sing with exquisitely honed  talent. I take my turn to shake young hands and give out trophies and books. We applaud the outgoing prefects and the newly announced ones, sing the national anthem, I say a blessing and walk into the night. **** This space is also used as a gymnasium, and there are chairs in rows, but both the the audience and the tableful of trophies are smaller.  Again, there are speeches by a number of people including Clemency, and I learn something new about the person I have lived with for over 40 years. There is a photo of us on o

Eden to Patmos. Week 3

This morning my reading included the most boring chapter in the Bible to date, Numbers 7. I know that when I reach 1 Chronicles there are even greater depths of tedium to be plumbed, in those interminable genealogies, but today it was 89 (!) verses listing what each of the 12 tribes gave as an offering when the altar of the tabernacle was consecrated. Each of the TWELVE gifts are described in excruciating detail, and each of the TWELVE tribes gave exactly the same thing! Aaaarrrggghhhh! For the last couple of days, in Leviticus and Numbers, it has all been laws: laws for priests and laws for people telling each group how to set up and then how to run a system in which to keep themselves pure. It has been about establishing the dichotomy between sacred and profane, and how to police the boundary between the two. There are two very brief references to homosexuality in this regard, and there are lengthy and repeated references to the avoidance of touching corpses, either of humans or


We spent much of the weekend sitting in the car, me driving because Clemency is not confident about towing the caravan. We led a quiet day in St. Michael's Clyde, where we spent the night, then participated in a confirmation in Wanaka, and a lunch in Tarras. The weather was clear and still and warm and sitting beside each other as we drove past the lakes and rivers and tawny paddocks was about the most appropriate thing to be doing, because 40 years ago today we were married, and spent the fortnight afterwards traveling these very roads in our 1962 Volkswagen Kombi. The people of the Upper Clutha parish treated us today with the most extraordinary generosity and kindness. Clemency and I exchanged some small but significant things and our children gave us gifts which showed a great deal of care and thought and planning, including a USB drive containing 40 pieces of music our children knew and remembered from their childhoods, or that they knew one or both of us responded to. So

Eden to Patmos - Week 1.

The road above En Hakkore in the Maniototo I'm reading the Bible right through, using the Nonesuch edition of the KJV. There are no chapter or verse numbers and while this is quite an old book, the paper is still crisp and white. It's a surprisingly easy read.  It's a long time since I've read the Authorised Version, and the language takes a bit of adjusting to, but the old words have an entertaining sort of quaintness about them - Begat, wherefor, bakemeats, Earing (ploughing); ouches (sockets for jewels); pilled (stripped off). I have a bit of trouble turning off the inner Biblical critic. Reading Genesis and half of Exodus in a week means the overall pattern and structure of the text is very plain to see: the seams in the joining of the sources in the story of Joseph are pretty obvious, as are the puzzles of timing - Isaac is more than 21 years on his deathbed, for example, and Ishmael is about 14 years old when his mother abandons him under a bush to die. Abr

Retreat March 2017

I will be leading a six day silent guided retreat at the En Hakkore Retreat Centre in the Maniototo from Sunday March 5, to Friday March 10, 2017. The cost will be $475. En Hakkore is set in the old TB hospital in the hills above Waipiata. The surrounding landscape is vast and open and beautiful, and provides ample scope for long and varied walks. The facility itself is spacious, quirkily interesting, and, while a little basic, very comfortable. There will be a rhythm of daily worship, which retreatants can enter into, or not, as they choose, including daily Eucharist and some teaching on thepractice and principles of centering prayer. I will be one of the three experienced spiritual directors available for daily conversation. Each day will include some group meditation sessions and there will be ample time for private refreshment. En Hakkore is about 2 hours drive from Dunedin, and public transport is not available. A few places may be available in the cars of others attendi