birthday boy Oli

Sam organised a lovely gathering for oli’s birthday

looking good on his birthday

Oli is 2 tomorrow!

the 30 places I have lived

Over the last 50 years I have lived in the following places:
Born in Hilljack Maternity Hospital in Dunedin, NZ (might have stayed for a week absorbing the lovely Dunedin late-autumn air), now  Columba College
House #1 Lived in Fairfield, between Dunedin & Mosgiel (apparently there was a ‘night cart’ – ie a chappie came in the wee hours and collected the family’s droppings)
Houses #2-5 Moved to Timaru for the start of 1962 – stayed three years lived in houses in Wai-iti Rd, Rhodes St, Coonoor Rd & Hobbs St
Houses #6-7 Moved to Whangarei in 1964 (in Timaru three siblings arrived to add to me and the older two – six children under 6!) Dad (Allan Stewart) had his first full-time position as a radio announcer
Lived in Kamo briefly and then at 14 Erin St (ph: 72063)
Started school in 1966, the first year of Tikipunga Primary
Houses #8-9 1970 (end of year) moved to Timaru.  Stayed in the Seaview Hotel for some weeks ahead of move to 36 Rugby St.  Attended Highfield Primary school.  Then attended Timaru Boys’ High
1980 started work at Plantorama Nurseries
Houses #10-13 Flatted in North St, Cross St, Wilsons Rd & Morgans Rd
House #14 Went back home for several months while preparing for university
House #15 Flatted at 95 Todman St, Brooklyn Wellington while at Victoria University
House #16 Flatted at 9 Devon St, Te Aro, Wellington for a few months
House #17 Knox College in Dunedin 1984
House #18 1 Somerville Courts, Glendinning Ave (married quarters at Knox College)
House #19 Evans St, Ohopo – a house that Janet Frame (noted NZ author lived in)
House #20 Newport St, Belleknowes, Dunedin
House #21 Hobson St, St Clair, Dunedin
House #22 Livingstone St, Duntroon, North Otago, the first manse after ordination and where daughter Hana lived after birth
House #23 Peebles, Waitaki Valley, Nth Otago – the other rural manse in the parish of Waitaki where son Sam made his start
House #24 4 Devon St, Gore – the manse at St Andrew’s in Gore where son Josh began the journey
House #25 83 Allens Rd, Ashburton, Mid-Canterbury
House #26 Philip St, Ashburton, with friends after marriage breakup
House #27 back to 83 Allens Rd (does this count?)
House #28 71 Drivers Rd, Maori Hill, Dunedin (the manse at Maori Hill Presbyterian Church), where I also served as chaplain at Columba College at the place of my birth!
House #29 53 Montague St, Northeast Valley, Dunedin – my first house, Anne and I bought it on a shoe-string… two and a half acres (1 hectare) of wild hill.  Loved it!
House #30 5a Truman Rd, Bryndwr, Christchurch – the manse at St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church – and we are still there!

Knox Church from the inside

There have been many images of Knox Church, Christchurch from the outside – most if not all visual media companies have stationed themselves in front of the damaged building simply because it has been as close as they can get to the city centre.  Rev Dr John Roxburgh of Dunedin has taken this photo from the inside – his article about visiting Knox can be read at the excellent Presbyterian Archives blog:

Until today I hadn’t seen what the church looked like inside… the picture is sobering and stunning.  As I understand it, the church is soon to be braced and boarded up until a decision is made on its future.


I wonder if the TV people could be a bit more imaginative when they pass over to the weather reporter…today’s TV One pass over was something like:  “Well, there’s plenty of weather about, over to you Jim!”

I might be being the problem here, but I have lived a while now and every day there has been plenty of weather about.  Sometimes it has been fine weather, other times wet weather – either way, it is weather!

Some thoughts this week

A theme I used in various places this week was this:

After these earthquakes that have killed people here and in Japan,
people feel lucky to be alive. 
How do we take those feelings
and turn them into a virtue
in our daily living?I explored the concept of developing the virtue of reverence and awe as a daily practice – based on some ideas formulated by Barbara Brown Taylor in her book An Altar in the World and her use of some ideas by the philosopher Paul Woodruff.

With a ‘big’ birthday looming, I recognise even more the preciousness of time.  This last month as reaching 50 has stood on the very near horizon, I have been remembering some friends and school acquaintances from over the years who did not make that age – Russ Leadley, Gary Taylor, John Shand, John Grice, Peter McSweeney, along with the others whose funerals i conducted over the years.  I wonder if they had known that they would not live so long whether they would have lived each moment more intently and with more reverence.  Some of them did – they were larger than life characters, but…

I have my doubts simply because we all live in such a context – we simply do not know what is ahead.  Today can always be our last day.

I intend to be more open to awe in each day, hour and minute (as much as possible) – time is a gift and much of the time I walk this planet has passed… I want to be more alive.

I don’t think that will be too hard – it is not as if I will set up a bucket list, but simply set out to enjoy the little things that come my way and revel in them – the sunrise, the turn of the seasons, the loveliness of the warm woman beside me, the wonder of my children, the smiles and the mischief in the faces of people around me, the uniqueness of each person I encounter, the taste of good wine (and even average wine!)… the many signs of the richness of God’s grace that is lavished on me for no other reason than that God has chosen to love.

The image is one from my recent holiday – a thing of beauty is not a thing to ignore…