Rediscovering Wonder this Christmas

I wonder what pastime or hobby you used to love doing when you were a kid at primary school, but now that you’re older, you no longer do at all?

My friend Scottie used to absolutely love playing cricket when he was a little kid. But as soon he got to High School he didn’t make the rep team, and so he just stopped playing, and started doing other things he could be more successful at. But still to this day he misses it.

You see, Scotty has this theory. He thinks that when you’re a kid, you spend most of your time doing the things that bring you joy and fill you with wonder. But when you get to High School people often stop doing those things, and instead focus on the stuff that other people tell them you’re good at instead.

When I was a little kid, I used to love painting, flying kites, and making model aeroplanes. Sure, I was horrible at all three – but all of those things filled me with this life affirming sense of wonder at the world. And yet, once I started High School, I quickly realised none of those things would help me progress up the social ladder of my school, and so I just stopped doing them. And yet to this day, I still miss painting, kites and model aeroplanes.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish poet with a huge beard and even huger eyebrows  famously wrote “Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder, and he gave it to me.”

But it’s funny how as we get older our sense of Christmas wonder can shrivel up – worn down by the stresses of work, the geo-politics of Christmas dinners, and the hum-drum of the domestic grind. I talk to so many people who are either burnt out or bored (or both!) as they wind up the year and head into Christmas.

One of my favourite contemporary religions artists is a chap called Scott Erickson (www.instagram.com/scottthepainter) who’s been doing a fantastic series throughout Advent, and he’s introduced me to this wonderful word; “Ostrananie”.

It means the art of making what’s familiar unfamiliar again. He says “This advent season I’m going to attempt to do this with our seasonal narratives that have mostly been developed by marketing and commercialism. Because in the unknowing of it all, the doorway of wonder will open up… and hopefully we may catch a glimpse of the wonder of the Divine in our midst right now.”

Now that’s the kind of Christmas I’m in desperate need of this year!  So maybe this summer break it’s time you got in touch with some wonder filled hobby or activity you used to do as a kid – as a sort of spiritual practice of becoming like a child again? Maybe it’s time you were intentional about making space for wonder?

So if you’re looking for me this holidays, you’ll find me on Ilam Fields flying a kite badly with my kids, with a huge smile on my face.

Rev Spanky Moore
Senior Ecumenical Chaplain | University of Canterbury

Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) Newsletter – December 2019

The EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) has released their newsletter for December 2019.  Highlights of this edition are:

  • Tips to prepare for the season
  • Remember the reason for the season
  • Check-in on the elderly
  • Reminder that EAP Services is here 24/7 throughout the holiday season

See the full newsletter here>

In addition, the EAP app has recently had an addition to the  ‘My Check-up’ section, on the topic of Self Compassion. It consists of a 12 question survey after which you will be linked to appropriate tips and tools.  A useful reminder at this busy time of year about looking after yourself!

Information on downloading the EAP app here

 

MA Scholarship: History of Canterbury Environmental and Conservation leadership and heritage

Research proposals are invited for a funded 1-year MA in History. The project will explore aspects of the history of environmental-conservation leadership and heritage in Canterbury using an oral history approach. Besides their supervisors, the successful candidate will work closely with contract partners Colleen Philip and Diana Shand at Sustainable Ōtautahi Christchurch and the ECO Canterbury Environment Network, and with Lyndon Fraser at the UC Oral History Centre. This unique public history opportunity allows the successful candidate to develop new skills in community network engagement alongside their academic work. An understanding of, and passion for, environmental-conservation activism and issues might be advantageous.

An essential outcome of the project is the recording, transcribing and archiving of between five and eight oral history interviews with local environmental leaders we have identified. The candidate will undertake and complete UC Human Ethics Committee and Māori Research Consultation applications in February 2020 and carry out the recordings by June 2020. They will work with sector partners and present their initial findings at a public forum in 2020.

Thesis topic proposals may address any aspect of environmental and conservation leadership in Canterbury which incorporates elements of oral history. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • A particular organisation or campaign (e.g. the Clean Air Society).
  • The role and methods of environmental and/or conservation leaders and activists, or a particular individual’s impact in this area.
  • A broad analysis of the environmental or conservation movement in the region.
  • Bicultural approaches to environmental and/or conservation activism.

A research proposal of no more than 1000 words, including a project outline and brief bibliography, should be submitted by Monday 20 January 2020 at 5pm.

Eligible candidates will have a first-class or 2:1 Honours degree in History or a related discipline, and are also encouraged to apply for a UC Masters Scholarship, alongside this award of $8,000. Students are welcome to contact Associate-Professor Lyndon Fraser (lyndon.fraser@canterbury.ac.nz) for further advice about the application.

First Tertiary Technicians Symposium: save the date and register interest (ATEM)

Kia ora Technical Staff

I have received information of an opportunity in the New Year. UC is a member of ATEM* so if there is a discount for members, ensure this is applied when registering.

“The Aotearoa ATEM committee is organising a Tertiary Technicians Symposium on the 10th February 2020 at Victoria University of Wellington. The aim of the day is to improve the visibility and recognition of our technical workforce, provide them with an opportunity to network with their peers and help them explore professional development opportunities. This is intended to be an interactive day with workshops to untangle the new Worksafe regulations and some psychological first aid training to help technicians who are encountering students with emotional and mental health issues. We hope to bring in a keynote from Weta Digital for some inspiration followed by a panel of tertiary technicians sharing their career pathways and professional development choices. If that is not enough to get you all excited we are also organising some site visits to other tertiary providers on the morning of Tuesday 11th February for those who are interested in exploring the technical facilities of their fellow institutions.

Date: Monday 10 & Tues 11 February 2020, Venue: VUW, Pipitea Campus.  See more details in our Draft Agenda and please register your interest via email and we will notify you of the opening of the registrations as soon as they open.”

*Association for Tertiary Education Management