Onion Skins July 17

I am sitting in the “Coffee Post” drinking some mean coffee looking across the road at St Margarets, our Pressy Church in Green Island, part of Coastal Unity and part of us. It is one of those crisp winter days and the birch tree leaves are a riot of colour as they catch the westering sun. Our May meeting of the Ministry Settlement Board was held there in the foyer of the church. There was nostalgia for me in the pictures on the wall of past office bearers and I particularly picked out Tom Somerville who was our minister in our bible class days……and more recently I had the privilege to conduct the funeral of his wife Rosalie. Somehow it brought all sorts of past experiences back into focus very like the movie that Marion and I saw together recently, “The Sense of an Ending”, based on a 2011 novel by British author Julian Barnes, starring Jim Broadbent, Harriet Walker, and Charlotte Rampling. I had the very strong sense of an ending sitting in the church foyer.”The end of what?” I had to ask  myself.

The interesting thing thing about the movie, difficulties aside, was that it ended with a  wonderful sense of hope, solid hope built on reconciliation, re-establishing relationships, robust love and “in spite of” support.

I got to thinking of all the changes that have taken place in Green Island over the last 60 years and more that I have known it. There certainly was no coffee shop! You would have had to go in to the Savoy in George St for that and paid quite handsomely for a cup of Strang’s  coffee and chickory…..from Invercargill!  There was Moore’s cake shop way back then and the Royal Hotel. From where I am sitting I can also see, where my father first set up his medical practice. The shop front is still there but I think it is now a residence. He eventually moved next door, upstairs above Charlie Bell, the chemist, which is now a “video venue”….but videos have had their time too. There is a sense of ending as I look at all these things.

In some ways there is a sadness but I look back to the movie, a very secular pic if there ever was one, rated M, but it had something significant to say about how the reality is that there is nothing perfect or sorted completely about our lives, both as individuals and in our travelling together….but from our perspective as people of faith, despite these realities that can be almost overwhelming at times, God is the very ground of our being as we read in Acts17 verses 27 and 28 and “he is not far from any of us”….and “we are his offspring”.

The other sense of an ending has come from an unexpected source. Marion and I have been asked to review the chapters of a book about Iruna hospital in PNG written by Sister Ruth Archer who now lives in Britain. She wants us to check the accuracy of her account…..and it has brought back so many memories, the children washing under the hospital pump, delivering babies in canoes in the dark, caesarean-sections in the middle of the night with no power, the singing despite all, the humour, the disagreements but a resolve to sort them, wonderful staff, and then the final leaving to do other work in PNG to try to get the churches to work together in health along with the government. To say the least this was very difficult because the churches could not always agree. With the reviewing of this book there was a real sense of an ending, almost tearful, but the reality is that this episode of our lives has finished…..and the sadness is that the Iruna Hospital is no more.

You will be thinking by now I am sure of the times in your lives when there has been a sense of ending. They are not always easy times….. but beyond them there is always a new beginning. With all the change going on around us we are almost submerged and wonder what next, but coming out of change and being together there can be a resolution to support each other, a quiet trust, and re-affirmation of our relationships, and our commitment to each other. It is the time of Pentecost and the Spirit is with us in this process. Let’s ride with it, and be blown into the future. I have this picture of us all 0n the back of Warren Moody’s Ford pick-up, with our hair [ what we have left of it!] blowing in the wind setting out on another adventure. The safety police might think we had drunk too much wine [Acts 2 v13] but we would give them the slip!

 God Bless, Pete S