One of the great joys of visiting family in Ohope is watching the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, the ever changing morning and evening light. Ohope Beach lies on the eastern end of the Bay of Plenty, an eighty mile curve of sea three hours southeast of Auckland. Because of its north-south location, this ocean expanse, unlike the Oregon coast, receives both sunrises and sunsets. The light is unique. Enjoy these pictures.
During these busy times of “doing” Christmas, may we all find moments to simply breathe and be the infinite Love that came to earth so many generations ago, yet still is present and moving in us today.
“Come to us, Holy and Infinite God. Expand our small hearts to make room for your unlimited love and reign in all human hearts as the Prince of Peace.” Evelyn Underhill.
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” Psalm 91:1,2
“Do I look at my life as being in my Father’s house? The only abiding reality is God Himself….I must learn to live every moment in my Father’s house.” Oswald Chambers
When my thought life is focused on His shelter, His house, and not my fantasies or memories. I find I live much more fully in the NOW of His presence and protection. That is where I find peace, not in the variability of my “feelings.”
I especially enjoy waking early enough to see the sunrise spreading across the sky over the Bay of Plenty or the Ohiwa Harbour here in Ohope.The Bible begins with God creating light, and later, showing us His light in human form: “His life brought light to everyone.” Whether here or at home, the morning’s freshness reminds me that each day allows me to begin anew. The light indeed overcomes the darkness, and my life can do the same. Each day, God offers us the opportunity to step beyond whatever holds us back from receiving His love and living fully within HIs family.
“One of the hardest things in life is to let go of old hurts. We often say, or at least think: ‘What you did to me and my family, my ancestors, or my friends I cannot forget or forgive. … One day you will have to pay for it.’ Sometimes our memories are decades, even centuries, old and keep asking for revenge.
Holding people’s faults against them often creates an impenetrable wall. Indeed, we cannot let go of old hurts, but God can. It is God’s work, but we are God’s ministers, because the God who reconciled the world to God entrusted to us “the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). This message calls us to let go of old hurts in the Name of God. It is the message our world most needs to hear.” Henri Nouwen
As we move forward into this new year, seeking to keep the “Christmas spirit,” Nouwen provides us excellent advice. Old hurts, once acknowledged, need to be surrendered, so we can heal, move forward, and let God’s “tender mercies” guide, support, and free us.
Once in while, a showery set of clouds comes across the Bay of Plenty, and as the afternoon sun shines through the rain, beautiful rainbows rise above the ocean of Ohope Beach. If the tide is low, and if the rains persist, the rainbows reflect off the wet sand, as they remain for many minutes above sand dune, shore, and sea.
On this most special day, I am reminded of what I should remember each day with each breath: God is with us at all times, in all places. He is the God of Life, and His steadfast love and mercy never cease, whatever the circumstances or conditions.
Shot at sunrise while walking to the beach at Ohope on our second morning there.
“Freedom comes when you know with your heart that you are loved. If you could accept and believe that you are unconditionally love and embraced, you could go all over the world and never be lonely…In our personal relationships a moral life is not enough. We must also live the mystical life, a life which is embraced by the God who says, “I love you fully and unconditionally.” Henri Nouwen
“Love unites all, whether created or uncreated. The heart of God, the heart of all creation, and our own hearts become one in love.” Henri Nouwen
And God is the eternal, ever present Shepherd calling us to Him, bringing us to Him. Thank goodness, because even now, I still wander astray and need him to bring me back and give me strength.
East Cape, N
“I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord.I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak.” Ezekiel 34:15.16
Ohope Beach lies on the Bay of Plenty, a long crescent shaped bay four hours east of Auckland. It recently was rated as the top beach in New Zealand. The beach here runs for miles, offering great waves for surfing and boogie boarding. Excellent fishing is found both in the ocean and Ohope Harbor, or Ohiwa as it is also called. Morning and evening light is never the same, never boring, sometimes subtle, sometimes shocking, but always alluring and enduring.