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Showing posts from March, 2018

A Song for the Season

I have been listening a bit to Vienna Teng. She's a Californian of Taiwanese descent, classically trained in the piano, and a lyricist of rare intelligence and beauty. Her The Hymn of Axcion is stunningly beautiful, and makes a powerful critique of social media and the culture which has given rise to it and is shaped by it. I love Goodnight New York , the first song of hers that I heard, and her range runs from pure pop in Level Up to gentle personal statement of Lullabye For a Stormy Night to the Jazzy Stray Italian Greyhoun d, and all points in between. But today it's her The Atheist Christmas Carol that's hitting the mark. Despite its title, the lyrics are speaking to me of Holy Week in a way which I can say Amen to. It's the season of grace coming out of the void Where a man is saved by a voice in the distance It's the season of possible miracle cures Where hope is currency and death is not the last unknown Where time begins to fade And age is we


Every morning, at dawn, I walk the beach, here in this lovely place. This is an edge; it is a liminal time, the in between, where land meets sea and night meets day, although I try not to think about that. It’s not a time for reflection, but more an act of presence, this mile long there and back. I guess it’s a kind of meditation, though my Centering Prayer anchor word doesn’t quite fit the rhythm of walking, so instead I use the Jesus Prayer as my feet follow one another across the coarse golden sand. Later there will be enough time for thinking. For now, being here is enough. The dividing line is always indistinct. When does a day begin and a night end?  But when a boundary doesn’t present itself with binary clarity it nevertheless still exists. There is night and there is day. There is land and there is sea.  Some days the sun rises gaudily through the clouds and the dawn gathers in the perforated sand. Some days the shadows are as beautiful as the clear, straight, stro

Christ's College

When I left school I was 16, and went to work as a labourer in a firm that made pre-stressed concrete beams. The first job I worked on was the entrance gates for Christ's College . When I helped pour those 8 little pillars and made sure the curving roofs were smoothly trowelled,  I guess I was about as far from everything the college stood for as it was possible to be. Last week, approaching the end of my working life, I walked through those gates with my friend and colleague, Anne Van Gend, to conduct a Special Character Review of the college. Christ's College was founded in the 1850s and has played a significant role in the life of the City of Christchurch, and indeed of New Zealand, with an alumni list bursting with the names of business, cultural, political, military, sporting and religious luminaries. The campus was hammered as badly as anywhere else by the earthquakes, but in the intervening 7 years has been restored and developed with the highest possible architectu

Being Silent

It's not my job to be silent, not this time. I'm here to sit with others, and to watch and wait and listen. Five times a day someone comes to the little house I'm sharing with John and Mary and for a brief while I am witness to the growth which their own silence is fostering. What brave and beautiful lives people lead. This is big sky country, spacious and wide. The quiet comes easily. The hills are steep and dotted with matagouri, wild briar, spiny spaniard and thistles, but here and there are what I am looking for. The yearling steers look warily as I step from rock to rock stooping to fill my hat with the large white mushrooms. It takes a few minutes to gather a couple of kilograms, and a bit longer to pick my way back across the creek and the barbed wire fence with them. Treasure waits where I don't expect it. Nightfall. The sunset falls through the huge, old windows. There are sixteen of us around the edge of the room with our backs to the sky and our