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Showing posts from March, 2017

Some snaps from my seaside holiday.

 campsite  View from the caravan The cormorant or common shag lays eggs inside a paper bag the reason you will see, no doubt is to keep the lightning out. But what these unobservant birds have never noticed is that herds of wandering bears will come with buns and steal the bags, to hold the crumbs.   Clemency at her favourite beach in the whole park, Little Anapai.   On the track to Anapai   Totaranui Totaranui   After an absence of many years, and following an intensive pest control programme and some effective re releases, the weka have returned.   And so have the pukeko   Totaranui headland   Totaranui   The Avenue, Totaranui  This, and all the pictures following are of Totaranui


Totaranui Beach from the Headland Track, looking South to the string of beaches, ending in Awaroa.  The Abel Tasman National Park is a large block of native forest in Golden Bay. It is best known for the string of golden sand beaches on its Eastern edge, stretching about 65 km in a line from Marahau in the South to Separation Point in the North. A track follows this coastline, winding along the beaches and over headlands between them, providing a 4 day walk of exquisite beauty. There are huts and campsites spaced along the track, and a winding, single lane dirt road leads to Totaranui, a beautiful beach about 10km from the Northern boundary of the park. Totaranui has a large Department of Conservation campsite. Clemency's family arrived in New Zealand from England in 1962 and in 1963 went to Totaranui for the first time, when the national park was only 15 years old and the programme of reforestation from farmland had only just begun. They returned annually and spent about a

For The Bible Tells Me So

The headland between Totaranui and Goat Bay, looking South to Goat Bay and Waiharakeke Here are three things which are related. Please bear with me. 1. A couple of days ago I finished reading 1 Chronicles. So many odd names, and so many lists! And so many contradictions and omissions and obvious glosses! It was a tough slog, but I got there. And my understanding of the Bible as a whole is greatly enhanced by the effort 2. A couple of days ago Clemency and I walked the Abel Tasman track from Totarauni to Awaroa Inlet. We have walked this section of our favourite part of the planet dozens of times before, and the leg over to Goat Bay is easy peasy lemon squeezy: a very short, flattish jaunt around the base of the cliff. But, since we last did it, a landslide had taken out the track, and DOC has cut a new one over the top. Now it is a  steep little 30 minute gutbuster to surprise us as we begin. It was a tough slog, but we got there. And our walk to the inlet and back was one of

A Family of Strong Women

  My mother, Pat Wright and my niece, Tania My nieces Tracy, from Perth, Western Australia and Jasmin, from London, with my sister Valerie in whose house we were gathering.     Clemency and Ada.  Sandie and Jane, my cousins, with my Auntie Julie.  Jane is an old flatmate of mine. Sandie a very accomplished painter. And no Julie , I do not cheat at scrabble. I just have a better than average ability to imagine possible and PERFECTLY LEGITIMATE grammatical constructions, that's all. Tomorrow my mother is 90 years old, though her memory is fading a bit and she may not quite realise it. This weekend past my whanau gathered in Nelson to celebrate her contribution to us all. My brother Guhyavajra was here from Stockholm with his daughter, Jasmin, from London. My niece Tracy, whom I had not seen for 45 years,  came in from Perth for the weekend with her daughter Anya.  My nephew Hamish excused himself from the wedding of a close friend to fly across from Sydney a

Retreat Day 5

We finish tomorrow, so today was the last time I saw people for spiritual direction. My job is to keep my trap shut, try as hard as I can to keep myself out of the conversation, and listen and watch and pray. Occasionally I can make connections and see patterns that  the person has missed herself, but I don't have to make anything happen. I try to encourage and reassure but after the first day or two even that is unnecessary; the process works. There is a rhythm to the day. There are a couple of times of group meditation and a daily eucharist, at which we three leaders take turns at preaching - the day's only teaching input. The programmed events are spaced to give lengthy periods in which folk can walk, journal, read, pray or meditate. The food is excellent and plentiful. People can, if they want, come and see one of their friendly local spiritual directors to share coffee and have a wee chat. But mostly, they are silent, and in that silence the Holy Spirit is present. Ye

Retreat Day 4

  A blue, clear sky and no wind. Dew on the grass in the slate gray, early morning shadows. Still. Silent. Wide. By now people are at home in the silence. It softens the crusted layers that time has hardened in their soul's depths. Bits break free and drift into consciousness. Tears come. And laughter. And immense courage, to bring to the light what is so feared, so reviled. those who try to make their life secure, will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. I was privileged to witness death and resurrection today.

Retreat, Day 3 and Eden to Patmos, Week 14.

Today I started on 1 Chronicles, that book whose first 11 chapters are all but unreadable. These chapters are information dense and thin on structure which means page after page of eye glazing opacity: genealogies and lists and unpronounceable place names. If you believe in Biblical inerrancy it's best to avoid 1 Chronicles entirely as it is so full of contradictions, both within itself and with other parts of the Bible. You can preserve your belief  by pretending to have read it, the practice adopted, you will be reassured to know, by pretty much all of your compatriots. But there are,scattered here and there, one or two little bits and pieces which offer just enough intrigue to keep you going. So in v 2:7, for example we get  ".....The sons of Carmi: Achar, the troubler of Israel, who transgressed in the matter of the devoted things....." , and in 11:22 the record of Benaiah, Son of Jehoida who "was a valiant man of Kabzeel. He struck down two sons of Ariel of M

Retreat Day 2

The beige sheep graze the tan grass. The road signs sing: Gimmerburn 10 km; Ranfurly next Right; Patearoa; Not for use in Winter. Don't be anxious. Don't be too hopeful. I am not the Dalai Lama. Neither have I anything to offer you  from the City of God, or even its outer suburbs. Sit here. Let me light the candle. Tell me what is happening, more or less. Here in this space, with the strong warm wind around us, you lay out small evidences of a felt life. Road signs on your soul's journey. And mine. Oh my God! I see you.               

Retreat Day 1

My bedroom opens onto a built in and furnished verandah. It is well set up with ingeniously recycled pieces and is comfortable and beautiful. Out through my windows is that vast sky and the tawny mountains of the Maniototo, looking like a pride of lions snoozing in the sun. I drove up today, towing the caravan because I go on from here to a family gathering in Nelson. My mother turns 90 next week, so my dearest will, when I arrrive, have temporarily become my nearest, from their accustomed haunts in Stockholm and Perth and Sydney and every part of New Zealand that you could think of. And a few that you couldn't even begin to guess at. I've got an 810km drive on Friday. I'd better rest up. I will, no doubt, rest here, but this is not actually my retreat. I am observing the silence and joining the prayers but this week I'm attending closely not so much to my own spiritual journey as to that of others. It is an astonishing privilege to be here and to play a part i

Anonymous Comments

A couple of years ago, after a series of vitriolic  responses  to posts,  I made a policy of not publishing anonymous comments. I reasoned that if people were not prepared to own up to what they said and be responsible for their own words, then why on earth should I give them a platform? After all, everyone knows who I am.  I have relented on this policy from time to time and think maybe it's time to modify it. so here's my new comments policy: 1. If you put your name to your comment I will publish it. 2. If you make an anonymous comment I'll choose whether to publish it or not.