I imagine this will be the last reflection I write from Taradale. The next will come from the Cathedral in Palmerston North because that is where I have been asked to go. I’m really happy in Taradale but it’s getting harder to live on the second floor of the house here and my joints are sending out signals for help! Some are saying, I hope in jest, that I won’t have to break in a new parish priest if I move! The parish priest of Taradale, Peter Fahy, is being moved to the cathedral and it was suggested that I go, too, but I don’t think it was to avoid breaking in another parish priest!
I have lived with change all my life. I always hate leaving but the new place invariably works out just fine. In the workplace, they call it ‘going with the flow’.
It’s hard to believe that it’s more than four years since I came here. The parish priest and the people have been so good – putting up with my shortcomings and turning a blind eye to some of my many forgetful hiccups. I have presided at the evening Mass on most Sundays and the ministers of Word and Sacrament have got used to my answer to every query – ‘I have no idea’. The people have certainly learned to grow through my weakness. I think they have also got used to my treading lightly on mistakes. There are enough of my own and the people’s errors usually pale into insignificance alongside what I myself leave out at times. Just in case you are getting a trifle nervous, I don’t think I’ve left out anything too vitally important.
At the time of writing, I’ve just returned from Rotorua. There is much to see and smell. It’s a magical place. One little fact that has stuck in my mind is the discovery of the basic elements in the soil. After the war the scientists knew that some element was missing from the soil but they did not know what it was or how much of it would be needed. They eventually found the element and, as one farmer put it, it was ‘a baby’s handful to a hundred acres’. As a lesson in life, there’s a lot to be learned from this insight – that such a minuscule amount could save such a huge area.
Also, at the time I’m writing this, Canterbury is getting over its big quake. It’s a mystery how the people survived such a calamity. We’re told that the quake was about the same intensity as the Haiti event which killed so many people (200,000) so maybe we have to thank God that our building regulations are so robust and that we have the means to implement them.
(In Haiti the quake measured 7.0 but was 8 kms deep and centred just 15 kms from the capital striking just before 5pm. The Christchurch quake was 7.1 but its epicentre was 40 kms inland from Christchurch and also shallow at 10 kms deep. The timing of the Christchurch quake is also believed to have been a big factor in saving lives because most people were at home in bed rather than in the worst-hit central business district.)