Take the weather outside, for instance. Take the fact that the earth’s spin axis is tilted with respect to its orbital plane, producing seasonal change across the globe. That is, take winter. Now there’s an invitation to live well: the shortest days are upon us, the ground is sodden underfoot, the weather is in your face, and once again Matariki is just around the corner. It is all inviting us to ask: how do we winter well?
Embrace it, Andrew Shamy advises. With all its cold and dark and wonderous hardness, winter is one of God’s gifts, a gift known best by receiving it. This is yet another extraordinary, wonder-inducing reflection on the everyday by Andrew Shamy. Expect to read and be changed. Rachel Kitchens provides the companion piece to Andrew’s essay with this month’s practice: “Leaning in to Winter”. With suggestions that are both sage and practical, her practice will help you to winter well in the coming months. In “Going to Ground”, gardener and community builder Phoebe Atkinson offers up a rich mix of well-composted reflection on life’s winter seasons, alongside of, well, some just really great gardening advice. And once you’re done gardening, sit down with longtime friend of Venn Rod Thompson for some straight-talking about the wisdom of facing death well.
We’ve had some remarkable conversations with remarkable, everyday followers of Jesus in our Field Notes interviews. Our hunch is that many of us struggle to grasp the reality of what God has done—and is doing—in the lives of ordinary people throughout the motu. That’s one reason we’re pursuing these conversations: to help you grasp the fulness of what it looks like to follow Jesus. This month, we’re in conversation with the amazing Rev. Keri-Ann Hokianga, who is a Māori Evangelist in Te Takiwā o Manukau and with NZCMS. She talks with Jannah Dennison about God’s powerful work in her life, and about the way he has led her, through work with FedEx into ordination and her present role, which represents the renewal of Māori-led evangelism in Aotearoa.
Finally, in this month’s art offering, composer and pianist Gabrielle Peake is back with her original composition, “Winters that Melt”, a spacious, atmospheric piece with a kind of active stillness running through it. You can enjoy the music neat via Spotify, or immerse yourself in the accompanying video collaboration.
Winter’s here, but not for long! Embrace it while you can.
Ngā mihi nui,
Dr John Dennison
Editor, Common Ground.