Grace Notes May 2020

An inclusive Christian community in Auckland, New Zealand

Grace Notes May 2020

This poem was written in March, 2020 by Kitty O’Meara a former teacher and chaplain from
Wisconsin.
And people stayed at home
And read books
And listened
And they rested
And did exercises
And made art and played
And learned new ways of being
And stopped and listened
More deeply
Someone meditated, someone prayed
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed.
And in the absence of people who
Lived in ignorant ways
Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
The earth also began to heal
And when the danger ended and
People found themselves
They grieved for the dead
And made new choices
And dreamed of new visions
And created new ways of living
And completely healed the earth
Just as they were healed
Thanks for this contribution John
*****
Congratulations to Betty & Bruce who have just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. There
was to have been a family celebration but of course, that couldn’t happen, that will be later on.
However, they did receive cards from the Queen and the Prime Minister.
Their daughter Annette was observed blowing bubbles outside their bubble window
*****
NATURE STUDY AT NORTHBRIDGE
A strange sound came through the window of my apartment – what’s that? Squeaks – sort of chattering
– suddenly coming towards me on the grass behind the apartment were a family of Quail – Poppa,
Momma and a line of babies! How cute. They kept moving – Poppa in charge – it was a lovely sight.
Oh well, on with the good work. But wait – what’s that – a different sort of squeak. From the window
I saw a baby hedgehog running up and down beside the support boards of the garden, distressed,
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unable to climb up the boards to reach Mother who was foraging in the raised garden. Baby was
getting much stressed and eventually Mother hopped down to her baby. big cuddles and I hoped she
would allow baby on to her back to go with her, but no – again she left him as she foraged for food.
Eventually they reunited and scurried off along the path. Perhaps I should invest in a pair of large
leather gloves in case I am confronted with such a situation again, when perhaps I could step out and
lift baby hedge-hog on to Mother’s back. Can’t see it happening actually……..
LOCKDOWN
Having a birthday on Anzac Day (a public holiday) has always seemed a privilege. With family not
being at work or school on that day, we were able to be all together, attend the special service at
Takapuna where Bob’s Dad paraded with his fellow Gallipoli Veterans, and celebrate my birthday
later in the day. The family took pride in Granddad’s war medals.
Being in Lockdown this year and unable to gather for the memorial services seemed to emphasize the
importance to N.Z of this important occasion – part of our history. Interesting to see the different
ways people chose to make their own commemoration – flags in windows, poppies on poles, in
windows, etc.
When lockdown was first introduced and the autumn weather was so warm and sunny, I found it
difficult to be “confined to barracks”, especially when I was used to hopping in the car and going for a
swim at Takapuna! It would have been easy if the weather had been wet and/or cold!! But of course
I had to accept the situation, along with everyone else, when all the group activities I had packed into
my days were suddenly stopped. As always, some good comes of these things – we have found time
for walking, reading, writing, distance communicating, not only interesting but enjoyable!!
Edith Fyfe
*****
One of the nicer things since lockdown began has been the time to partake in rather different
activities. Many evenings Colin has treated Pat to a Magic Lantern show – that is checking through his
colour slides from the 1950s. Some have been photos his Father took of his return to Northern Ireland
– the first time since his immigration in 1925. This led to the re-reading of his Mother’s detailed diary
of their trip. Tragically she was to die on the return sea voyage.
Watching the slides has led to another challenge. We realise we will have to digitise the best slides in
order for the photos to be preserved. It seems that we must never stop learning!
Pat & Colin.
*****
COVD-19 has meant relocating the office and working from home for Rosemarie and the team – with
a daily Zoom catch-up. There have been aspects of the business cancelled and new service offerings
implemented to meet a different demand. Some days have been taken up with electronic briefings
and advisory meetings with Government officials and different sectors of business. The home office
looks out to the bush and there is a bird-bath which is frequented by Tui, Kereru, blackbirds and
thrushes – its special to be able to watch them. We try and take a daily walk – often its close to 6pm
leaving the house, so a brisk walk in the dark is the order of the day. Weekends mean a longer walk
in daylight. While Rosemarie is work-working, David is doing Rotary and Presbyterian Support
Northern work and meetings – and working on projects around the house – maintenance and painting
of 5 decks and a number of other smaller tasks – making doors close properly etc. The weekend
before ‘lock-down’ we hosted a street BBQ, so got to better know some neighbours. We have been
baking and cooking and sharing some of the results across the fence. Life has not changed much for
us…..though we don’t have to drive places and we are taking coffee and lunch breaks together.
Rosemarie & David
*****
LOCKDOWN THOUGHTS /THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR.
One day last week I sent my 18 year old grandson an early morning text. When he replied, 5 hours
later, he said, ”Gran, what are you doing up at 7.30am?” I replied, “Why not? Have you heard about
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the lady who was asked what got her out of bed in the mornings? Her reply was, “My bladder.” Well,
that’s me.”
We might be Lockdown but some things haven’t changed. Every morning as the sun starts to come
up the tuis in our banksia tree start to sing telling us it’s time to wake up. Recently a family of
magpies have moved into the Norfolk pine tree at the corner of our driveway. Some mornings it
seems as if they’re trying to drown out the tuis in a squawk off.
Some things have changed though. When we turn on the Breakfast TV to catch up on the news from
overseas that has occurred while we slept there is only one topic of news. We are bombarded by
experts each with advice and an opinion. There are virologists, biologists, micro biologists,
epidemiologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, nutritionists, economists, and so on.
We didn’t know there were so many “ologists” and so many things we should or shouldn’t be doing.
Because we are retired and are still receiving our superannuation we are secure in our daily lives. But
for many people this isn’t the case. Money and jobs aren’t secure and people are suffering. So I am
thankful for my circumstances.
We are sad not to see our children, our grandchildren and friends regularly but happy that we can
keep in touch by phone or online conversations. But for some people this is usual. They don’t have
families to keep in touch with, either due to distance or maybe due to family disharmony and
disagreements. There are people who don’t have friends to keep in touch with them or who care for
them. So I am thankful for my friends and family.
We are missing out on attending some of our regular activities – book club, garden club, church
groups, mainly music, woodturning club, to name a few. But for some people this is usual. They never
leave the house, don’t belong to clubs or groups, and don’t enjoy social interaction with other people.
So I am thankful for the opportunities I have to meet others with similar interests.
I stand in a queue in the supermarket car park for half an hour in order to be able buy my weekly
groceries. When I get inside there’s no flour or sugar and some items are in limited supply. For me
this isn’t usual but for some people this is usual. Some people have to queue for hours to get food;
many don’t get enough food to eat on a regular basis. So I am thankful for regular food and the money
to be able to buy it.
I have books to read, a garden to potter around in and a home that needs cleaning still. We enjoy
pretty good health and have access to health care if we need it. Once again there are people all over
the world for whom this isn’t usual. We are really thankful for what we have.
Pauline
*****
We have been enjoying having our oldest son at home working from an improvised office
upstairs. The last time he was here for an extended period, he was still a student so we are enjoying
him now as a more fully fledged adult with interesting discussions over dinner each night about his
job and the lockdown – he is in the debt management team at Treasury.
One sweet thing that happened early on was when my husband accompanied me to the supermarket
– we walked down and he waited while I did the shop then helped me carry it home. But while I was
in the queue outside he asked everyone in a big loud voice to help him with something. “It’s my
wife’s birthday and she hasn’t got any presents but I wonder if you would all help me sing Happy
Birthday to her?” Which they did, albeit in a kind of shy NZ way, and of course when it came to my
name, they didn’t know it so it semi fizzled out at that point. But a bit of fun!
Cathy
*****
FLOWERS OF TASMANIA
Towards the end of last year, in Spring, Ian and I went to Adelaide to visit our daughter
Lizzie. We then took her with us to Tasmania.
Why Tasmania? Ian was very keen to fill a gap in his family tree. He has a criminal ancestor.
His uncle had found some information earlier, but left unanswered questions.
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We landed in Hobart just before midnight, picked up a car at the airport and relied on the
GPS to get us to our accommodation. We arrived in the city and drove straight up one of
the steepest streets I’ve been on for a long time. Hobart is very like Wellington.
The first thing we noticed the next day, were the beautiful roses. Roses over fences, up
walls, over arches and in standard clumps. Each stem crammed with hundreds of flowers.
Hobart was cold, it is level with Christchurch, but must be just right for roses.
Liz and I dropped Ian at the State library to go through their records and we ‘hit’ the shops.
Ian’s research found seven prisoners called John Leach. It was going to be difficult.
We went to Port Arthur, two hours east of Hobart and spent the day at the penal settlement
set in about 100 acres. Most of it is in lawn with lots of ruined prison blocks. There is a
restored section with small single cells and a chapel in the middle (no seats-you had to
stand on raised platforms). It was a harrowing day.
We also went to the Hobart Botanical Gardens. Lovely cacti gardens and native plants in
flower; three young and very rare Wollemi Pines.( Wollemia nobilis ). These trees were
accidentally discovered in 1994 in dense bush in NSW. Their closest relation is our Kauri.
They, like many NZ trees, were around for thousands of years before flowers evolved.
These pines had just produced their unusual cones and I was really excited to see them.
By now Ian had eliminated all but 3 John Leaches.
We left Hobart and travelled north staying at a beautiful east coast seaside town, Bicheno.
Walking around the rocky foreshore saw us ducking under wild native bushes covered in
flowers and marveling at unusual coloured rock formations, white sand and deep blue sea.
Our last stay was an hour west of Launceston in the north of Tasmania. We visited lots of
small towns, cheese makers and cideries. This involved driving through lots of farm land.
Many fields were full of beautiful pink flowers. Others were full of white daisies. I couldn’t
identify the pink flowers and thought it must be a market garden area.
Ian was on the home straight. He knew his Great great grand father, when released, had
married and had a farm near Deloraine.We went there and found the Anglican church where
Ian’s Great great grand father, was buried. After a fruitless search of the graveyard we rang
the number on the notice board. It turned out to be the vicar, who came to help us. He was
a lovely young guy with a wicked sense of humour. We found the grave, took lots of
photos, and then went into the church with its lovely stained-glass windows.
Now on the road to track down the farm. To cut a long story short. Ian found the farm.
There were photos on the lunch room wall of the modern cow shed, showing original farm
workers and buildings. His only relation in the area was still on his own farm just up the
road. We spent a lovely day with them and it turns out that Ian’s cousin had also spent
many hours on the family tree. True kindred spirits. With one further clue from Graham, they
finally identified the correct John Leach, transported for stealing cloth from his employer in
England.
One of John Leach’s sons came to New Zealand and eventually settled in Waihi.
The next day we drove up to Cradle Mountain National park. It was a sunny blue-sky day as
we hiked up from one beautiful lake to another. The plants were familiar, but not quite. So
many natives in flower. On the long walk down we used a boardwalk and there was a lady
with a serious camera taking photos- there was a wombat! Then another and another – a
wombat party. We could have touched them. A wonderful day.
The pink flowers and white daisy in the fields were still a mystery. It was soon solved thanks
to information boards at one of the look out points.
The big pink flowers are opium poppies, grown for their medicinal opioids.(That is why the
‘keep- out’ signs were on the surrounding fences). The white ‘daisies ‘produce pyrethrum
used in fly spray. Other farmers also grow hemp as cattle food. Who knew about these
crops? Enterprising Aussies!
Robyn Bogue
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*****
TRIP TO INDIA
I am aware that many of you have not met Kim to whom I am married, and most have not
had the opportunity to get to know her, it’s the nature of this Intentional ministry and living
outside of the Parish on the whole. Here is an introduction to our sojourn to India so the
gorgeous woman in whose company I keep you will now know as Kim. Starting from when
we left India and returned to NZ, we arrived home two days before lockdown knowing that
we had to go into two weeks of isolation first. It was a different NZ to the one we left. India,
when we arrived, was what people call normal. The cacophony of sound, hmmm yes you
English professors that is a tautology, it deserves to be repeated. Everyday life in the India
we visited was a cacophony of vehicles, peep peeps, public prayers, music, the chatter of
people, dogs barking and this was all at the same time. No harmony you might think, yet the
noise of everyday life and without it what would that mean. Well, we experienced the void of
these sounds, not to mention the sea of colours and the gamut of smell, some of which you
could savour. The day of Holi, a day of public festivity was curtailed because of COVID-19.
Still, regardless business would normally close for Holi and people would typically have big
public celebrations and incredible family fun and food, just like our Christmas Day. The
streets of Delhi New and Old were free of everything. Amazingly there was no sound, colour
and smell in comparison to the day before of the day after. The few people who were out
and about were fully engaged in throwing coloured powders at each other. Rubbing in and
all over each other is a beautiful celebration of togetherness.
As you can see from the photo, we engaged. People were so friendly and generous; it was
indeed a happy day.
When we returned to Delhi two weeks later, it again was a different world slowing down and
indeed losing its sparkle. A definite air of fear, disillusionment and sadness seen in the
faces, heard in the voices, felt in the heartaches of what was and what was to come. We left
the day before India closed its borders.
Colin and Kim
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*****
Finally:
People keep asking
“Is Covid 19 really that serious?”
Reply
Casinos and Churches are closed
When Heaven and Hell agree on the same thing
It’s probably pretty serious.
Go Well
Grace