Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cathedral Vision

I was told about the Christchurch earthquake while I was at a clergy development day. We were hearing a lecture on Matthew's Gospel.

The priest at the church where I am a student is also from Christchurch. At a bit after 10:30 he came over and told me what had happened. All he knew was that there had been an earthquake in Christchurch, the Cathedral was ruined and there were fatalities.

When he said this, I had a vision, which I have attempted to draw above. It was of the front of the Cathedral and all about was red. What the image doesn't have is the feeling that accompanied it. It was an empty pit, a vast hollowness. It is very had to describe.

I left the room and tried to contact my brother and mother. I couldn't get hold of them. I rang my wife and asked her to try to contact them. I wandered around outside in a sort of daze, having no idea of what was happening back home.

My wife texted me with a message that said "I think I should come and get you." This sounded like very bad news. My first thought was that my mother had been killed. I started to think about my brother, his wife and three kids. My friends started to pop into my head.

Sarah came and picked me up, and we drove back to our house. The news on the car radio said they had pulled out of the rubble. There would be many fatalities. I broke down.

Since then I have been in contact with so many people. My mother was fine, and my brother and his family are ok too. I have had contact with most of my friends, and they are ok too. There are a few not accounted for as yet.

The last few days have been completely surreal. I wish I was back home with my family and friends. There is nothing I would like to do more than have a cuppa with them.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Yesterday my home town was devastated by an earthquake. 75 people have been confirmed dead. The CBD is destroyed.

All the while, I watch this on TV here in Newcastle, Australia.

I have never felt so helpless, sick, restless and homesick. There is no way I can understand what my friends and family are going through. There is nothing I can do to help them.

Like many, it was the sight of the Cathedral in rubble that bought the whole thing home. The Cathedral is the centre of the city, physically and spiritually. Christchurch is a predominantly Anglican city, and the Cathedral is right in the centre. It would be hard to live in Christchurch and not have a story or an incident that involves the Cathedral.

As a non-Christian, I used to go to the Cathedral on Friday evenings while on my dinner break from work. I used to sit and listen to the choir as they rehearsed.

The cathedral was the place of my conversion, sort of. It was while watching Midnight Mass at Christchurch Cathedral on Christmas Eve on the telly that I first became a Christian. It was at the cathedral that I had first received Holy Communion. It was at the cathedral that I first prayed.

I was talking with a friend last week about how it was my wish that when I am ordained a priest (God willing) that it might be possible to have the ceremony in Christchurch Cathedral. The chances of this were always remote, but it was a hope.

All of this seems quite pathetic and selfish now. As I sit here and watch the news, read facebook updates on how everyone is, and wonder about those we haven't heard from, my interests and hopes have become insignificant and feel wrong.

I have no understanding of how awful it must be for everyone.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Tonight I watched 'The Simpsons' with my family. It was the episode "Jaws Wired Shut." In this episode, Homer gets his jaw broken and is unable to talk. He discovers that his family is quite interesting, summed up with "Wow, Bart has feelings."

The point is that usually Homer is talking about himself and his life, that he does not hear what his family is saying. because he is so involved in his own life, he does not take the time to hear what the rest of his family are saying. Within his enforced silence, Homer becomes a better man. Not only does he hear his family, he hears what they are feeling.

I have been through a similar breakthrough in the past three months while undertaking CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education). Within this course, I learnt how to keep myself quiet and listen to patients. Not only hear what they are saying, but what they are feeling.

I am a talker. I like talking, and am guilty of talking about myself. Often. I am quite a selfish person in that respect, and no one would know that better than my family.

However, during the last few months I have found myself listening more and talking less. It has been quite a change. One for the better, for the most part, yet I wonder how long I can keep it up.

The thing is, the quieter I am the more I hear, the more I am tuned in to what is going on. So far, this hasn't all been a pleasant experience. By not filling space with gabble, the more I 'hear' the dissatisfaction in living, my own, and those around me.

There is a positive, and a large one at that. By experiencing quiet, I have been able to hear God more clearly. The gentle voice that has guided me once had to eke it's way through my own nonsense. Now, it is a more regular murmur.

Don't think I'm going crazy and hearing voices. It's not like that. Hearing is the wrong word. Like how Homer started 'hearing' his family when he stopped talking ("Wow, Bart has feelings"), it is the same with 'hearing' God. By keeping quiet, God is revealed in the silence.