ONION SKINS June’17
I am still coming in for a landing after my scooter trip to Wellington. My head is full of experiences and in my sleep I am still negotiating the machine around tight corners on the inland route to Murchison over the Lewis Pass…..a diversion necessary at present because of the Kaikoura Earthquake damage to Highway One on the coast. In some ways it was a lonely trip as I was completely on my own and in survival mode, which was the experience I was looking for. In other ways it was a catching up time, catching up with myself, catching up with friends and having some wonderful unexpected encounters with complete strangers. As for a reason for the adventure I think the adventure part and tasting the forbidden elixir of being out on the edge again was the main theme but meeting old friends in Wellington as part of a the 1965 Med Class Reunion was very special, and likewise family in Wellington. Bruce and Jan send their love and greetings to all down here.
As for the moments which I will never forget, they really were the unexpected encounters and these moments were almost exquisite in their deeper meaning of what it means to care for each other. There is so much desperation around at present as to the “way things are going” but these experiences ran completely counter to that. They made my heart sing.
When I arrived in Murchison I was pretty done but I was welcomed to the hotel….it was like the wild west that place….and they offered me the woodshed to store the scooter for the night….there was a power cut as well [ a truck had driven into a pole!] and we were drinking tea off the wood burner…..it was surreal! The warmth of their welcome was palpable.
Taking your motorbike over in the ferry is a bit of a mission and was a new experience for me. You have to play dodgems with the big articulated trucks and when I came to tying down the machine I just lacked the grunt to do it. A “younger” member of the Harley clan saw me struggling and helped me to do it…..very special. I had it sussed on the return journey, thanks to him.
I had my scooter clamped in the Te Papa carpark….admittedly it had been there for 3 days but the car park attendant was just amazing. I was suitably penitent and he let me off for much less than scheduled and when I explained that I would prefer not to leave until the following morning he smiled benignly and with a quizzical, knowing look said I should just leave as I had arrived, “no worries”.
I must have appeared a little anxious to my son Tim about making it to the Ferry terminal by 8am on the Monday morning that I was leaving Wellington. The traffic is pretty crazy and changing lanes on a motorbike on the one way system was not really that appealing. He took me in hand and said just “follow me”, Dad. I said I can’t follow you, Tim, as you are on your pushbike. He told me to do as I was told as he was heading out that way anyway to work and it was on the route he followed every day.
I meekly followed and what a ride! I lost him at one stage but he came in from the left at another intersection and it was not long before we were part of the highway along the waterfront, four lanes plus and heading north. He was out in front and to my side at times doing at least 40 to 45 kmph which was about the rate at which the traffic was moving. There were lights to negotiate. He indicated to me to stick to the left hand lane, and then more signing that I needed to follow him left…..and I did, under the Northern Motorway and into the queue of traffic waiting for the ferry. As soon as we came to a stop an official said he should not be there with a pushbike. He smiled his disarming smile, gave me the thumbs up and disappeared. I must admit to feeling a bit tearful, as old men do sometimes……..if this was not an encounter of love nothing is.
Theologically I am not clear what this all means as I often lack the certainty of some of my clerical colleagues. This I do know however, and I quote Richard Rohr, “ The answer will come out of the struggle [ he uses the word “tempest”], an answer that cannot always be verbalized to even your children, and husband or wife. But it will be an answer that you know. It is a conviction that is deep and all pervasive. No one can give it to you, no one can take it away: It is a gift from God. You cannot prove it to anybody, but you no longer need to. Believe me when I say it: the deepest levels of faith will still feel like confusion…. but you are no longer confused by your confusion.
Thanks for a great journey.
God Bless, Pete Strang