The Lord merely spoke…

When the Lord formed the earth, He saved the best for last and created New Zealand! Today, Sunday, is our last full day here. We leave Ohope/Whakatane in the early afternoon for Auckland. We fly back to the States in the evening. As you can tell from my recent posts, the presence and the power of the ocean here is constant. After all, New Zealand consists of North and South ISLANDS. I have been reminded continually of the many references in the Psalms to the Lord’s power in creating and containing the oceans. Here are a couple.

Photographic Hilites I of New Zealand, 2010

We have less than a week left here with the family in Ohope Beach, North Island, Bay of Plenty. Whereas the first week and half passes slowly, the sand of the hour glass is now rapidly filling at the bottom. Our days have been filled with the happy voices of our grandchildren, and activities with them. We have enjoyed long beach walks, shell collecting, sunrises and sunsets, travel up and down the coast. This is an exceptionally beautiful country. We are blessed to be able to visit.

Forgiveness and Joy

A sunrise and sunset shot from Ohope Beach, overlooking the Bay of Plenty, create the theme for this week’s spiritual themes. I never cease to be awed by the Psalmists statements about God’s forgiveness toward those who seek him humbly, completely, repentantly. There is such joy in that realization of eternal love. With that we can, as St. Seraphim says, share and kindle joy in others. In that way, we become a spiritual presence to others, a companion on the way.

Our first week in New Zealand

Well, it was just a week ago today that Meg and I arrived in Auckland, and then took a commuter flight to Whakatane, the harbor town closest to Ohope, North Island, where Matt, Teresa, Sebastian, and Emma live. Matt has been working at a hospital in Wellington for three months, to demonstrate to the Austral-New Zealand Medical Society that his US Board Certification should be recognized down here.

One of the reasons we made this winter trip was to give Teresa the chance to spend a week with Matt while we took care of the grandchildren. It is tough being grandparents, but somebody has to do it :). I mean, we get the children off to school, and then we must find time to read while drinking tea or coffee, walk on the beach with Aggie, the black lab, pick up sea shells, take sunrise and sunset pictures, eat great fish and chips, drive on the wrong side of the road–I know how sympathetic you are feeling for us.
It is fun adjusting to driving here. The basic lesson is remembering to drive with the center line next to you. I have found that is the key orientation fact for me as I drive. The challenge then is to drive into parking lots on the far side instead of the near side–and not to turn the windshield wipers on when using the turn signals. So far, I am under 10% in turning on the wipers rather than the directionals.
Central heating is non existent in New Zealand. Our bedroom is quite cool at night, probably around fifty five degrees. We sleep under a great comforter, and feel like we are in a cozy den. Since it gets dark at five thirty and light a seven, we sleep quite deeply.
As always, we are impressed with the beauty of the country and the kindness of the people. We are blessed to be here.

The comfort of being held

Loss is for now, but not forever. And while we wait for the eternal reunion, we can, if we choose, let ourselves be comforted by the knowledge that we do not live in an impersonal universe. We enjoy a Presence beyond the mystery, a Creator who by His nature cares for us. But as always, it is a choice. God doesn’t stop loving us; we decide how to receive His love.

Eagle Cap Wilderness

La Grande is such an incredible place to live. Last Friday afternoon, July 16, Bob Carter and I drove two hours to Lostine River trailhead for the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Two hours and fifteen hundred feet later, we were in the incredible glacier meadow that runs three miles up into the lakes basin below the Eagle Cap monolith. I have been in this area many times, but never this early in the season. By late July and August, the air becomes hazy because of forest fires in the northwest, and because of local field burning. However, now it is crystal clear, deeply blue and sharp-the visual counterpart to the most delicious, refreshing spring water. All this beauty was reached in about four hours, from home to meadow!

Unstinting gratitude

I get so tired of my ego. It appears in so many different unfruitful ways. Joan Chittister in her book, “The Breath of the Soul,” guides me in an important way to take me beyond myself and into a deeper faith in God.

“Gratitude is not only the posture of praise, but it is also the basic element of real belief in God.
When we bow our heads in gratitude, we acknowledge that the works of God are good. We recognize that we cannot, of ourselves, save ourselves. We proclaim that our existence and all its goods come not from our own devices but are part of the works of God. Gratitude is the alleluia to existence, the praise that thunders through the universe as a tribute to the ongoing presence of God even now. “

The calming voice of God

When Meg and I were in Kansas City visiting her mother, we stopped by a Bible book store. Both of us have enjoyed the writings of Joan Chittiser, a Benedictine nun. We found a wonderful book entitled “The Breath of the Soul.” It is a little book–only 136 small pages divided into 42 chapters of three or four pages each. Yet it is not the size of the book, but its profound depth that make it worthwhile reading every day. I strongly recommend it. Here is an excerpt:

“The truth is that we must pray for the strength to do what we are meant to do. We must pray for the courage to meet the challenges of life. We must pray for the endurance it will take to go on even when nothing changes. We must pray that the spirit of God is with us as we do what must be done, whether we succeed in the process or not.”

Photos by Eric Valentine