Our time here began with the unveiling of a Memorial Stone – a year after his death – for Sir Paul Reeves. Sir Paul was a remarkable man – Maori by background, former Bishop of Auckland, Archbishop and Governor General of New Zealand. You will find the full account on the Anglican Communion website
Archbishop Rowan began his homily by quoting from the modern Maori poet, Glenn Colquhoun:
The art of walking upright here,
Is the art of using both feet.
One is for holding on.
One is for letting go.
That powerful symbolism was picked up last night by Archbishop David Moxon, Primate of the New Zealand Dioceses, as he spoke about the careful cultural and linguistic balances between the three elements of the Anglican Church here. Like many of us, I have been learning – and learning with respect. Yet is is clear that this careful set of balances cannot be an end point – if it becomes that it will enshrine a process of parallel development rather than the building of one body in Christ. Yet nobody can really say where it is going. Thinking back to my own experiences in Ireland, I asked some people whether they had acquired the ability to laugh about their differences. For that too has to be part of the journey – though I think that the first attempt would have to come from the Maori.
Archbishop David spoke of this as a dance – fluid, relational .. One foot on the ground and one moving. I like that image. It seems to me to describe perfectly what is needed.
One other question which I found myself discussing at last night’s dinner was the power of symbolic action. One of the things which we learned in Ireland was that it is possible to negotiate the substance of issues. But you cannot negotiate symbolic action. So there is something to explore here – particularly when for the Maori and Polynesian communities symbolic action is so important. It’s about finding a new set of symbolic actions which move the ground beneath our feet – even as our feet dance on top of it.