Monday, April 28, 2008

remembering Dean

It doesn't feel like it was over 24yrs ago. The memories are still vivid. The stunned silence of the classroom and muted reaction. The quiet tears. The empty desk.

The disbelief. He couldn't have died, he was in school last week.

The anger - that HRI needed to hold jumble sales and cake stalls to raise funds for a bodyscanner that could have spotted what was wrong and thus saved his life whilst Maggie spent several fortunes on nuclear weapons that could never be used and cut back on NHS expenditure to do so.

The indignation - when the vicar at the carol service kept going on and on about it and then expected the school brass band behind him, which included Dean's teammates and classmates, to play - as if his lengthy ponderings had been the usual Christmas offering.

The feeling of helplessness - wanting to reach out to those classmates who knew him far better than I but never knowing how to do so or what to say.

The incredible response at school - the collection box outside Barson's office raised over two hundred pounds, not bad for school kids in 1983, especially considering Dean had only been with us for a few months.

The gratitude - to Liverpool Football Club for the wreath. He'd died from a football injury. It meant a lot to us.

The sense of loss - of someone I'd only just been getting to know but had instantly liked.

And now?

I don't think I've ever quite forgiven that vicar. We only just had enough tissues between us in the choir. It isn't easy singing when you've been crying, and the haunting picture of Stephen's tears has always remained with me.

I can forgive the hospital staff who sent him home thinking he was ok, they did the best with what they had. But it was a wake up call to the realities of politics for me - it wasn't just something on the news any more - it was personal.Cut-backs in health service budgets still send a chill down my spine.

I can't forget. The grief has never really gone away. Every teenager's death brings it back.

Quite who the tears are for now I'm not sure, whether it's for Dean, his friends and family, or those newly grieving, my thoughts are with them - family, friends and classmates.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

weather with me

Rain. Lashing down on the windows, running like a river down the road, drumming out a tattoo on the corrogated iron roof (standard roofing material here). We've had stair-rods, cats and dogs, the works.

It's grey - that dull darkness that ceases to improve after about 8am and then dims quickly back to darkness at the end of the day. Lunchtime traffic has its headlights on, reflecting off the wet surface, dazzling pedestrians attempting to cross the road.

Wind, blustery and billowing, rendering all attempts to use a brolly useless without an inelegant imitation of Mary Poppins being likely.

My inner Brit looks out of the window and thinks 'November...'

But this is Auckland. I guess I'll need a waterproof over my t-shirt, just as well I'm wearing sandals, bare feet dry so much quicker!

Monday, April 07, 2008


Here is something I read this week that I'd like to share with you...

Wairua [Spirit]

Power of the Spirit
- the spark of godliness in each human being
- each is unique
- Mauri [life force] is in all things - animate and inanimate

Spiritual Powers
- Spirit of giving
- Caring for others
- Creating firm relationships

Spiritual Communications
- Every language carries its own spirit
- Every language is precious
- Language must be spoken to be alive

Spiritual Identity
- Land, people and universe are one
- Spirit of the land is in the person

Spiritual Universe
- The source of all energy in the universe is one
- Exploring and discovering is a spiritual experience.

from "Toku Rangitiratanga Na Te Mana-Mātauranga - Knowledge and Power Set Me Free..." by Tilly Reedy in 'Weaving Te Whāriki' Ed. Joce Nuttal 2003.


Even more 'wow' is that this was found in one of my set texts for Early Childhood Education training. It comes from a chapter explaining the Māori origins of the national curriculum for early childhood in Aotearoa New Zealand.

When I first read the national curriculum document I was struck by the amount of resonance with between it and the material covered by the Britain YM Quaker Youthworker course. The more I learn about the Māori principles that underlie it the more I find in common between them and Quakerism, Tilly's summary above wouldn't look amiss in our Faith and Practice.

I think it encapsulates my view of the Spirit rather nicely, there's nothing there I disagree with or even wibble over and as yet I haven't come up with anything missing. Maybe I will if I think about it long enough but for now it will do rather nicely - thank you Tilly.