Friday, 29 July 2011

This Moment

Earlier this month I spent a week on the island of Iona on the west coast of Scotland. This island is where St Columba first landed when he made his voyage from Ireland back in the 6th Century. The Abbey on the island has largely been restored and services are held there at least twice a day. 

The nunnery, on the other hand, lies in ruins.

At first I wondered why there had been no apparent attempt toward restoration or recovery - to put the stone slabs back together or pull the weeds from the walls. And then I wondered why I had this desperate need to return things to their former glory, as if a particular moment in time ought to be permanently preserved for fear of change. But lately I have been learning how to allow things to be what they are, when they are; delighting in each moment for all its familiarity as well as its diversity.

This place was a nunnery - it served that purpose for a moment in time. And now, now it serves a new purpose, and I can see the beauty of it. The rugged beauty of this outdoor garden, with its flowers that just seem to grow wild where they are without wandering all over the place, is just as meaningful and intentional and purposeful. This collection of stones was what it was, and is what it is.

May the bones of my body be the same: living each moment meaningfully and intentionally and purposefully. May this be true for you too. And may we allow ourselves to be changed by the one who is steady and unchanging, the one who is the beginning and the end, the one who says "I Am Who I Am".

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A Mothers Love

I caught this train from London to Glasgow today. It was a 4 hour journey and half way through I scored myself a sweet window seat. I spent the remainder of the ride gazing out the window, capturing the countryside.

All along the edges of the train tracks there were pockets of wild foxgloves bursting with beauty.

My mother loves foxgloves.

My mother loves me too.

As I rocked along the train tracks I was struck again by the beauty of creation, and the beauty of love. I too know what it is to love, and I too know what it is to be loved. It almost seems paradoxical, but in the bonds of love we are set free.

This bought tears to my eyes - the kind of tears that just leak out and you can't stop them. I wasn't sad, I was grateful, and this was my response.

I understood anew that I am loved, by my mother and by my God, and it is this love that defines me. As I travel through this world and as I travel through this life, I don't always know what I'll be facing, but I face it with the knowledge that I am loved. I think that's beautiful. I think that defines all that I am. I think that defines all that I think and say and do. I think love defines everything.

(p.s. I love you mum, and I think that I may just be learning to love foxgloves)

Friday, 15 July 2011

Butt, I Wanted to Wear Those Pants in This Relationship

For Regan Jackson because it was his birthday. 
For Carol Vicarage because, well, you know why. 

I developed a keen interest in op-shopping and secondhand store scavenging in my early teens. I still have a jacket I bought from an op-shop at Mount Maunganui when I was 14, both because it is a cute little jacket full of character, and also because it was such a bargain - the best bargain I have ever come across - and it symbolises all that is good with secondhand items.

By the time I was 16 I was well educated in this area. One Saturday morning I was scouring the various stalls at Paddy's Market - an annual fair for St Paul's Presbyterian Church in Katikati where I grew up - when I stumbled across another bargain. Score!

I had found the fabric stall. Being a keen sewer with an adequate level of technical skill (and an unfortunately low interest in patience and precision to a degree which horrified my mother), I was eager to transform this fabric into something worthy of the character of the print. I had found a piece of fabric that had been stored since the 1970's.

It was only right to make something great. Flares were in order. Big, 1970's flares. Luckily I had just the right pattern. I set to it and my creation was constructed in a couple of hours.

My mother had warned it would never work. The fabric had no give to speak of, as well as no strength to support the movement that would be required of it. I told her I knew what I was doing - as 16 year old's are inclined to do.

I wore these pants to the next school mufti day. I paid my $1. I felt good. I looked good. My new pants were a perfect fit, and peculiar enough for me to feel that I had not fallen into the crowd. As we were exciting form class, down the wet wooden step, this boy I liked told me I had cool pants. He was right. I did have cool pants.

Not long after, the pants went into storage. I can't remember how it happened (truly, I can't!) but somehow the seam in the crutch split and rendered these pants unwearable. My mother was right, the fabric couldn't cut it.

Earlier this year these vintage pants were rediscovered. My parents were doing that thing where they make sure you have well and truly flown the nest. The wardrobe in the spare room was no longer my own private storage space. With what was mine I either had to claim it, or it would cark-it.

I couldn't let these pants kick the bucket. I asked mum if she could fix them. She said "I'll get me lady to do it," meaning the local woman who makes clothing alterations for a small fee.

Last week I got my beloved pants back. The following Saturday was moving day, and I thought this was a prime opportunity to try out my trusty old trousers. The first thing for me to do was take a ar load of boxes and books to Phillip and Carol's place. They're keeping them in their garage for me while I am away. I lifted and stacked, and lifted and stacked, and all was well.

On my way back to the beach I called in at New World in Waihi so I could bring some more banana boxes back with me. I spoke to the guy in the produce department and he headed out the back.

The thing with the Waihi New World is that every time I'm there I have to get some dried mango slices from the pick and mix section. They are so tasty and this particular brand can be hard to come buy. I made my selection and waited for his return. He came back carrying four boxes stacked one of top of the other. He asked me if I wanted a trolley and I said thanks, but I should be fine.

It was a little awkward as I took them from him; clutching my wallet and my mango slices while trying to get a good grip. The top box was above my head which meant that I walked at an odd angle around the corner to the checkout chick.

Despite my light load I remembered to use good lifting and lowering practice. I bent at the knees and placed my boxes on the floor. I waited in line and was aware that I couldn't waste much time (it was still moving day after all). Each time I moved up the line I would use my foot to slide the stack of boxes a few steps ahead of me.

She scanned my mango, I paid her $2 and I bend down to pick up my boxes. This time though, my trousers did not bend to the shape of my bottom.

With a sufficient level of surprise I informed the checkout operator that unfortunately I had just split my pants. The terrible thing is that these trousers weren't even tight - truly! I had had to hold them together with a safety pin. And what's worse, it wasn't even a tiny little tear, it was a gigantic rip right up the rear. With as much grace as I could muster I stood and walked out the door, albeit as discretely as I could, keeping my back to the wall were possible.

The trick to walking the streets of Nairobi as a white woman on your own is to exude confidence - look like you know where you're going and what you're doing, even if you don't. The trick to walking out of a supermarket with a hole in your pants the size of you hand is similar; exude confidence. That's waht I did anyway, and I think it worked.

The only saving grace of that mornings events is that I was wearing a large black scarf. Once in the safety of the foyer I stood with my back to the small plants sections and wrapped this unendingly useful piece of fabric around my waist and tied it together on my right hip. Wardrobe malfunction successfully managed!

When I reflect on what those pants represent for me I am reminded that I am too quick to hold on to things longer than I need to. I should have been content to allow those pants to be a good thing for a moment in time, and then moved on. That's why I'm not getting them fixed again.

In this relationship I have with life I wanted to wear those pants, because they were mighty fine pants. They represented creativity and uniqueness, ingenuity and experimentation. But at the end of the day they are still only a pair of pants, and I couldn't pretend they were anything more. It's time for me to let them go. This is their memorial. Farewell.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

ka kite ano

I tend to get all sentimental when I'm leaving, and I'm going to be leaving soon. It's time for me to start heading in a slightly different direction. It's time for me to let some things go.

Almost a year ago I moved out to this cute little place at Waihi Beach, with it's high wood-paneled ceiling angled upward toward the apex. When the rain comes the water sneaks its way inside, slides down the ceiling and slips onto the carpet or into a bucket.

I reside upstairs, and from the front window I look out into a Totara tree, where the tui’s perform their tricks. Beyond are the Bowentown Heads; they're neither particularly beautiful nor boastful, but they are bound, and I love them for it.

Between these are a bunch of houses, holiday homes and batches mostly. My view extends up the street and I can see when the posties red, rural delivery van arrives, and I rush out with my mail.

Outside there's a small balcony. It came with a picnic table and an orange sun umbrella. I added the pot plants, which are struggling to survive because, unfortunately, I did not inherit my father’s flare for horticulture. This space proved useful during summer. Each Sunday we'd spend time together eating fish and chips and sipping shandy - or something stronger.

Just next door, between number 5 and number 7, a sandy beach access slithers its way over the sand dunes and out to sea. I like the sound the sand dunes make at dawn and dusk; the gentle calling of nesting birds, the reeds and the wild grass rustling in the wind, the sniffs and sighs of my neighbours lap dog as she gives me the guided tour, "come on, Bugsly," I whisper.

Each time I walk this way I wait at the top of the last dune before wandering down to the water. I can't help but pause, the view is glorious and ever-changing; sometimes sweet and still, sometimes rough and raging. Most days I can see her, sitting out over the horizon. "Kia ora Tuhua," I call, and I continue on my way. 

On Saturday I'll be leaving. I'll be saying good bye to this place. I'll be moving out and moving on.

Ka kite ano.