Tag Archives: holidays

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

Easter – a time for reflection

We are all just about to head into an extended break to celebrate a religious festival I like to call “Easter”.

Now, for your average Kiwi it’s a time to gorge on novelty eggs over an extra long weekend. But for Christians, Easter is the most important religious festival in the annual calendar (It even trumps Christmas!) – and it’s the time when they remember the death (Good Friday) and resurrection (Easter Sunday) of a chap called Jesus Christ. The death bit is pretty much accepted by most historians as a historical fact, while the resurrection bit, understandably, is more hotly contested.

One of my favourite Easter artworks, by Italian painter Caravaggio in 1601 is called “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” aka “Tom the Cynic”. Thomas is the disciple who famously wanted proof that Jesus was actually back from the dead, and demanded to stick his finger into Jesus’ wounds. He was the original “Doubting Thomas”. 

Caravaggio, The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, 1601-1602, Sanssouci Picture Gallery, Potsdam Germany.

I just love how gruesome the painting is. I imagine Thomas squishing his finger in Jesus’ wound – and I wonder if halfway through his finger test he feels that tinge of regret – like when we ask our friends to show us their mountain-bike wounds, and then wish we hadn’t. I also wonder if he washed his hands afterwards before eating dinner that night. And I guess this painting reminds me that when it comes to faith (be it religious, scientific, or economic) – no questions should be off limits, and no beliefs should escape the right to be prodded to see if they hold up to closer scrutiny.

But be you a saint or a cynic when it comes to the Easter story – their may be something new about Easter you’ve missed all this time! Because for thousands of years Easter has also been the season when people have reflected on what character flaws or habits of themselves that they wish could be “put to death” (like, say, the way I become enraged when a car doesn’t indicate before they turn), and what other aspects within themselves they hope might be “brought back to life” (like, say, the joy I used to get as a kid from painting or playing backyard cricket).

So, this Easter, be you a person of some faith or none, take this as my official Chaplain’s invitation to put aside time to consider what negative thing in your own life you’d like to die before you return for term 2, and what life-giving thing you’d like to create space for. UC will be a much better place for it, and so will you!

Happy Easter! 
Rev Spanky Moore

Send them a UC Christmas card

The 2016 e-Christmas cards are on the intranet and ready to be used.

The summer break is coming in fast so make your life easier by connecting with your friends, associates and colleagues with a UC Christmas card.

  • Choose your design and write your message
  • You’ll then have an opportunity to check the card and make any changes
  • Then just enter the recipient’s name and email address. You also have the opportunity to load a CSV file if you have a million and one friends.

Have a look at the options here.