From my heart to yours – March 2015

An inclusive Christian community in Auckland, New Zealand

From my heart to yours – March 2015

From my heart to yours

You may or may not be aware that on Sunday 22 February, I informed our congregation, I intend to retire as from June 2016.

I recall many years ago both as a police office and minister, hearing about colleagues who had decided to retire and often thought, that’s a long way off for me, now I too am at that place on my journey.

It’s a decision that I have not made overnight; rather it has been gently gestating over the past year. I knew at some moment in time I would need to retire, the question was not if, but when. Coming to a decision such as this, required moments of reflection and conversation. Space forbids a detailed exploration of how I came to such a decision, but, looking back, having conversations with Fleur and my supervisor most definitely helped me to focus my thinking. I also found poetry useful, to challenge my perceptions, inviting me to reflectively explore what I needed at this time in my life.

One such poem is: Espresso by Tomas Transtromer

Black coffee at sidewalk cafes

with chairs and tables like gaudy insects.

It is a precious sip we intercept

filled with the same strength as Yes and No.

It is fetched out of the gloomy kitchens

and looks into the sun without blinking.

In daylight a dot of wholesome black

quickly drained by a wan patron…

Like those black drops of profundity

sometimes absorbed by the soul.

that give us a healthy push: Go!

The courage to open our eyes.

My decision to retire required having the courage, to make that healthy push to Go! This is opening my eyes long closed, to see further ways of being, pregnant with possibilities and opportunities, which require me to respond to life in different creative ways. Having made my decision I feel a deep sense of rightness and peace.

The following is a copy, of what I read out to the Congregation last Sunday:

In coming to this decision I considered Fleur and my needs at this time in our life together. Along with your needs in this unique community of St Aidans whom I serve as your pastor, friend and fellow traveller.

It’s not because I don’t love you anymore, rather, it’s because I love you, that I need to retire, for love always wants the very best, for the other. The time is now right for a significant change both for you and me.

At this time I am uncertain what that actually entails for me, but it will be, I am sure, working with people in some way.

For you, you will commence a journey of exploration seeking to discover the kind of person you wish to invite, to lead you into the next phase of your life as a community. Because I am retiring that exploration can commence while I am still here, there is no need to wait until I have left. The Northern presbytery will guide you in that process.

Until June 2016, the journey continues:

  • I will continue to faithfully fulfil my responsibilities as your minister and pastoral leader.
  • We will continue to worship together,
  • We will have moments of laughter,
  • At times tears will make their presence felt
  • We will continue to delight in being a Kids Friendly Church
  • We will continue to enjoy our Café Church
  • We will continue to celebrate communion together
  • We will continue to care for one another
  • We will continue to share conversations over coffee and wine
  • We will continue to delight and appreciate having Roxy with us as our intern this year.
  • We will continue to live, move and have our being within the loving embrace of the mystery we name as God.

I conclude with a poem that helped me in opening my eyes long closed:

The Opening of Eyes – David Whyte

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
The passing light over the water
And I heard the voice of the world speak out
I knew then as I have before
Life is no passing memory of what has been
Nor the remaining pages of a great book
Waiting to be read

It is the opening of eyes long closed
It is the vision of far off things
Seen for the silence they hold
It is the heart after years of secret conversing
Speaking out loud in the clear air

It is Moses in the desert fallen to his knees
Before the lit bush
It is the man throwing away his shoes
As if to enter heaven and finding himself astonished
Opened at last
Fallen in love
With Solid Ground

Meanwhile peace from a fellow traveller on the journey

Alf