Wednesday, 26 December 2007
Yes, I know these wishes to everyone for a wonderful Christmas is a day late by my local time, but since I’m currently 12 hours ahead of GMT (and about 20 ahead of the US West Coast!) it’s still Christmas Day for most of the people dropping by here. Christchurch is quite possibly one of the most English cities in the world – far more so than anywhere in England herself that I’ve ever visited - and the lovely old English practice of closing business to mark days like Christmas extends to internet cafes. Consequently I’ve been unable to get online until today, and that’s fine. The day anyone thinks the world can’t occasionally take a day off to celebrate Something Truly Wonderful will be when the meaning of Christmas really has been forgotten. Which is something that will never happen – the warm faith and love of so many of the people I’ve come to meet through this blog is proof of that.
So please, have the very merriest of days; and thank you for (a) dropping by during the past few months this blog has been going, and (b) for all your encouragement – both of which have meant far more to me and been more empowering than I can ever possibly hope to explain.
Far easier to explain is the rationale of my “Middle Earth” reference: if the link isn’t obvious from the picture, then it certainly would if you you were standing here next to me. The Lord of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand for obvious reasons; and on days like this it’s hard to remember that Tolkien’s characters aren’t just resting somewhere around the next corner. Close your eyes and you can almost smell Merry & Pippin’s bacon sizzling on a crackling fire, while Gandalf blows smoke-rings and laughs over old times with Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam.
This photo was taken from Diamond Harbour, which is IMHO one of the most beautiful villages on earth. The white buildings on the far right are the port of Lyttleton, and Christchurch lays just the other side of the hills behind. As for the mountains in the centre of the picture? My guess is that half a day’s ride and Shadowfax would have you in the House of Elrond.
The picture is from the same spot, but facing the other direction. Try as I might, nothing I can write conveys the air’s thick fragrance of cypress and pine, nor the rich tang of an ocean even older than the volcanoes in which these rocks were forged.
Sail east past this headland, and the next landfall is Tierra del Fuego, more than half the globe away. Round up to starboard at any time during the voyage, and a few days later you’ll strike Antarctica
It’s a different journey, however, that's on my mind today; rather I'm thinking about the one to that Christmas has made real for all of us: the one in which all sadness shall pass when it’s time to hoist sail for the Grey Havens. If they’re half as beautiful as here then life will be pretty good indeed, and until it’s time to cast off on that passage, the people (and dogs, cats and everyone else who’s called by!) like all of you make holding anchor in this harbour all the more worthwhile.
Merry Christmas, and may God Bless each and every one of you.