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Taking the Footpath

January 29, 2013

Milford FamilyHappy new year friends! I know its already a month in, but it still feels like the beginning right through January thanks to our long summer holidays Downunder. hope you feel something of the newness of the Spirit as you begin 2013. For our family it began with the Milford Track (google it, one of NZ’s great treasures). The flooded track opened the day we were booked to walk and all five of us, plus David from Germany and two other friends, took the ferry from Te Anau into the primal forests of Fiordland. As many of you know it is a truly magnificent place surrounded by soaring cliffs adorned with waterfalls and multi-coloured bush, fern and moss. The clouds didn’t really open above us when we climbed over the MacKinnon Pass and no dove descended from the heavens, but the mist parted below us and we looked over the edge into the abyss and the “12 second drop” to the next hut below us. Needless to say we took the longer path, more travelled. For the following two days we saw beautiful sunlight, and were surrounded by awesome mountain views with snow as well as waterfalls in plain view. We fed the sandflies well. We communed with travellers from around the world – Italian, Australian, German and a charming deaf couple, who taught us all some new language. All of which reminds me of the words of novelist and thinker, Marilynne Robinson:

We live on a little island of the articulable, which we tend to mistake for reality itself. We can and do make small and tedious lives as we sail through the cosmos on our uncannily lovely little planet, and this is surely remarkable. But we do so much else besides. For example, we make language. A language is a grand collaboration, a collective art form which we begin to master as babes and sucklings, and which we preserve, modify, cull, enlarge as we pass through our lives.

      (When I was a Child I Read Books, Hachette Digital, 2012)

In honour of this grand collaboration let me offer you two pieces to start 2013. The first is a prayer by Michael Leunig which reminds me of the Milford Track and the second is my paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer. Hopefully these words will encourage us in a venture even more important than language, namely prayer.

“Dear God, we pray for another way of being: another way of knowing. Across the difficult terrain of our existence we have attempted to build a highway and in so doing have lost our footpath. God lead us to our footpath: Lead us there where in simplicity we may move at the speed of natural creatures and feel the earth’s love beneath our feet. Lead us there where step-by-step we may feel the movement of creation in our hearts. And lead us there where side-by-side we may feel the embrace of the common soul. Nothing can be loved at speed. God lead us to the slow path; to the joyous insights of the pilgrim; another way of knowing; another way of being. Amen.”

(Michael Leunig, The Prayer Tree)

Abba in heaven, Abba in freedom

May your glorious life be the delight of all creation

May your realm come to us and among us

May your will be done on earth

as it is in heaven

Give us today what we need for today

and forgive us our sin

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us when we come to our trials

and deliver us from evil.

For all dimensions of power,

including the power to establish true community,

are yours,

now and in the age to come


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