Sunday, October 20, 2013

All the fun of the Show

The rural “A&P (Agricultural and Pastoral) Shows” are an un-missable part of the New Zealand Summer.  The local show is the highlight of the year for many rural communities.  If you’re visiting New Zealand during the season, make sure you find a local show to visit while you’re here.  (And if you live here, don’t miss your local show in your region).

The children love it.  They enjoy seeing all the animals, including sheep:


These goats help make my favourite Goats Milk Soap:

At this time of the year, there’s lots of baby animals on display:

The pipe bands make a great atmosphere:

There’s also baking, hand crafts, dancing, show jumping, and the finale of the Grand Parade:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

If, Lord, thy Love is strong–St Teresa of Avila


If, Lord, Thy love for me is strong 
As this which binds me unto thee,
What holds me from thee Lord so long,
What holds thee Lord so long from me?
O soul, what then desirest thou?
Lord I would see thee, who thus choose thee.
What fears can yet assail thee now?
All that I fear is but lose thee.
Love’s whole possession I entreat,
Lor make my soul thine own abode,
And I will build a nest so sweet
It may not be too poor for God.
A soul in God hidden from sin,
What more desires for thee remain,
Save but to love again,
And all on flame with love within,
Love on, and turn to love again.
- St Teresa Avila
Source: Wikipedia:

Collect for St Teresa

Merciful God, who by your Spirit raised up your servant Teresa of Avila
to reveal to your Church the way of perfection:
grant that her teaching
may awaken in us a longing for holiness,
until we attain to the perfect union of love
in Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Matthew 6:9 (NIVUK)

‘This, then, is how you should pray:
‘“Our Father in heaven…”’

The instant the midwife said “It’s a girl” and handed the squirming newborn to my husband, he was smitten.

Nearly a decade later, my daughter’s favourite time is spending time with her Dad.  Especially their evening card games before bedtime.

I have memories of myself at about the same age, climbing into my Dad’s armchair for a bedtime cuddle each night.  As a teenager Dad and I would go exploring in the Bush, discovering hidden waterfalls in the side-streams.  Now, Dad and I enjoy long conversations about everything under the sun.

Romans 8:15 (NIVUK)

The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’

I’ve been told that in Aramaic this is not a formal “Father” that is often implied when the Lord’s prayer is recited, but a more informal address, something like “Daddy”

Luke 11:11-13 (NIVUK)

‘Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

Heavenly Father.  Daddy.  Protector and provider. A Divine Dad who is smitten, besotted with me. A Dad who loves to spend time with me, who cares about me, who watches me grow and mature. A Dad who meets all my needs (but not necessarily all my wants). You knitted together my chromosomes at the moment of my conception and created me as unique individual.  You planted within my soul a desire to know you more, and gave the gift of your Holy Spirit to enable me to draw into your presence.  Nothing within me is hidden from you, all my dreams and all my failings. 

‘This, then, is how you should pray:
‘“Our Father in heaven…”’

Saturday, October 5, 2013


I need to get out of this City more often.

When I was in my teens, I spent most of my weekends and holidays in the Bush, while my parents worked at building what would become their retirement home.

I realised the other day how much I miss that.

The valley's main stream

There was a couple of spots in particular that were my favourite places.

The first was up the hill above the house.  There was a pocket of more mature trees in the regenerating bush, secluded in a hollow at the top of a dry gully.

As I turned the corner of the track and dropped into what we called “The Glade”, I descended into stillness and quietness.  I realised for the first time since coming into the valley I could no longer hear the rushing of the main stream echoing up the hill.  It’s a bit like when you have a power cut and you suddenly realise how much background noise your appliances make as they all fall silent. By some quirk of the geometry of the hill, this hollow was completely shielded from outside noises.  Even the wind only brushed over the tops of the trees without disturbing the Glade. 

Me aged 13, "The Glade"

There was a particular tree whose roots made a comfy spot to sit, leaning back against the trunk.  I loved to spend as long as I could just sitting and listening to the chirping of birds, the humming of insects, and the complete absence of other sounds.  It was like being in some other world.

The other spot was one I visited less often.  It was further up the valley, on the public track in the Forest Park.  The track mostly followed the main stream up the valley, but at this point it cut a corner, and as I walked along, the rushing of the stream faded away, and was replaced by a smaller, lighter splashing.  Then turning the corner, the track crossed a small side stream that dropped into a trickling waterfall just below.  Further on the track returned to the main stream, and as the smaller waterfall faded the rushing water came back into hearing.

The "Waterfall Spot" up the valley

With a bit of a scramble, I could climb down to the bottom of the small waterfall, and find a “possie” to sit and listen to it for a few minutes.  Occasionally other trampers (“hikers” to my non-kiwi readers) would cross above, intent on their destination up-valley, and apparently oblivious to the magic they were passing.

As I soaked in the Silences, it became a spiritual experience.  I became aware of the hand of the Creator, and of His presence.  I was not a Christian believer, but I became convinced of the Spirit.  I didn’t try to label the experience, but if pushed I probably would have called it “Magical”.  Not the tricks of a stage magician, nor the waving of wands and casting of spells, but the kind of magic you find in stories like Narnia - the intersection of other worlds with our own.

Now, having read some of Evelyn Underhill, I’d probably use the word “Mystical”.

When I started to attempt contemplative styles of praying from the example of St Teresa of Avila, or the Cloud of Unknowing, a corner of my spirit lifted its head, sniffed the air and blinked, “Hey, I recognise this place, I’ve been here before”

The challenge, as a working mother of three children, is finding the Silences.