South to the borderlands

Walking the edges of our experience

An Easter Reflection on


Southland and Fiordland

John 20: 16-17

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned toward him and said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!”

“Do not hold on to me,” Jesus told her, “because I have not yet gone back up to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them that I am returning to him who is my Father and their Father, my God and their God.” (Good News Translation)

Southland Beech Forest at beginning of the Kepler Track. Lower photograph Lake Monowai

Still beneath the Southland beech, life is all present.

A living cathedral, which from the vaulted canopy confetti leaves fall to carpet the forest floor.

Bless to me

The soft humus beneath my soles.

Bless to me

The triangle-marked track on which I journey.

Listen. Whose loud chuckling music did I hear?

The tui bold

With its mica throated tuft.

Mountains from ridge in Hunter Range above world's largest natural landslide

High on the skyline are the Hunter Mountains.

I stare in unmeasured wonder at their closeness to the sky and paint:

Of generous storms

or quiet whispers.

Of respectful courage

or humbleness.

Of passionate love overflowing

or alone silence.


Shore of Lake Manapouri

To walk the edge where Manapouri water laps the pebbled shore, brushes with eternity.

Reaching down I take a palmful of water colours

They pour through my fingers

Like a fountain

Ever renewing

Ever living

Ever loving

Ever blessing.

Mary’s Kilt | A memorial song

We stand on holy ground and feel the saturation of prayers now joined by our own memory thoughts.

1 Come gather round, her table now,

Laden with food all home cooked fare.

A shortbread gift to take away,

As pleat by pleat she stitched her kilt.

2 With babies wrapped in knitted shawl,

Now handed down to great grandchild,

The love and time held in her arms,

As pleat by pleat she stitched her kilt.

3 Sing with her now, in chorus air,

Of mountain pass, a still lake shore,

Then watch the boat come safely in,

As pleat by pleat she stitched her kilt.

Artist Statement:

My intention was to explore the places and times we are touched by ends and beginnings. I have drawn on ideas from traditional Celtic prayer, Christian theology and belief.

Along with John 20:16-17, Deuteronomy 1:31 was also important: “and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a parent carries their child, all the way you went until you reached this place.” New International Version (NIV) – italics neutralising gender are mine.

Informed by:

Family recounts

Personal experience

Personal watercolour paintings from Wales, Cumbria and Western Scottish Isles (1995)

GNT Bible

NIV Bible

Burrows L. (1974) Te Anau Anchorage. Dunedin: John McIndoe.

De Waal.E. (1996) The Celtic Way of Prayer: The recovery of the religious imagination. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Heppenstall-West, A. (2002) Reclaiming the Sealskin: Mediations in the Celtic Spirit. Glasgow: Wild Goose Publications.

Silf, M. (2001) Sacred Spaces: Stations on the Celtic Way. Oxford: A Lion Book.

O’Riordaiin, J.J. (1996) The Music of What Happens: Celtic Spirituality: A view from the inside. Dublin: The Columba Press.

Created By
Lavinia Elder

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