Wolf at the Door is a series of writing workshops. They provide exercises to sharpen up & broaden your writing. This is just a depository of my writings following their series of exercises.
Exercise 1: Memory & Imagination
Like Wellington, the descent into Dunedin was turbulent. I’ve been on worse flights, I know I’ve been on worse flights, but in those few moments that the cabin shook and the window was a blank white cloud, I started a silent mantra of the Lord’s Prayer whilst my heart rate rose. I swear I’ve become more nervous the more I fly; part of me is wedded to the idea that the more hours I spend in the air the greater my chances of being in an accident. I experience that accident, unbidden, unwanted, yet it controls my breathing, now short as if snatched from the plane’s air-conditioning unit: becoming aware in the faces of the staff that something is terribly wrong; thick terror in the cabin, punctuated by despairing screams; a ripping pain in my skull as the plane plummets; that frozen moment of impact, seeing the cabin rush towards me; red pain.
My prayer ends as the cloud is torn asunder by our plane and my window is again filled by the dreary quilt of Otago. Rain streaks my window, fields below orderly but for the broad swathe of flooding. The water offends the eye as it ignores fences, sheds, stock and covers what it will. In Tauranga we await the cleansing Spring Equinox and quickly growing lawns; in Otago, early Spring will only bring the dirty slush of snow melt, cold Southerly winds and dead animals.
The squeal of rubber on asphalt interrupts. The air brakes pull us all forward, inadvertently fixing our lazy slump. “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Dunedin. It has been our pleasure here at Air New Zealand to carry you here today. For your safety, please remain seated until we reach the terminal building and the plane comes to a complete stop.” Silent meditation on the impossibility of the technology that flew us here is forgotten; in this same seat I may as well be on a bus now. I want to get off, I want to get to the reason I am actually here. I fantasize that I will step on to the tarmac and be transformed by a new life, but I know I am still 30 kilometres away.
Exercise 2: Distractions
Things I have not brought with me
National Radio’s Nine to Noon
to-do list (though there’s one in my head somewhere)
timetable for when I need to finish this
complete understanding of the exercise
an uninterrupted focus
snacks to fill the spaces where I’m not sure
coffee to take a breath
a settled wairua
Exercise 3: A Title for Your Autobiography
Hunting High and Low
Exercise 4: Developing Loving Kindness
Part A: for me
A celebrated Tauranga community leader, Graham Cameron is today considered a compassionate advocate for a deep and transforming biculturalism between Māori and Pākehā. His work with in impoverished and oppressed communities has garnered national praise and local admiration.
Hunting High and Low is the journey from his early years in Christchurch, to his formation alongside his wife Jo in intentional community in Wellington and back to a home he had never known in Tauranga Moana. It is a journey to reconnect with identity and place amongst his Ngāti Ranginui tribe. It is a journey to faith and compassionate love for the suffering. This is an exploration of how honesty and love overcame loss to form a man whose integrity and character have made an indelible impact on race relations.
Capturing his passion, volubility and thoughtfulness, Hunting High and Low calls others to follow in the steps of an ordinary man living a life for others.
Part B: for a friend
Whilst following a winding path as a young performer, youth worker, to establishing a new monastic community, to priest and bishop, there has only ever been one destination for Bishop Justin Duckworth: the Kingdom of God. An active, contemporary monk, he has re-defined the role of the church in the Wellington Diocese, less through words and instruction than through the faithfulness of his own life.
A husband and father of three, he has used the challenges of childhood in Stokes Valley, the passion of his years as a youth in Youth For Christ, and his insight in community to the injustice of poverty and exclusion, to form a vision for the church that walks again the road to Jerusalem alongside Christ and the poor who followed him.
Courageous, fragile, out-spoken and contemplative, Bishop Justin has become an inspiration to Christians who long for a church that reclaims a place in the public square as a servant for the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.
warm with spittle
your own very personal spin
dribbling off the chin
licked up by the needy
who hear untrue stories
honestly just lies
which never really happened like that
“I was speaking”
“this woman I didn’t know”
who had fallen from the holy middle class
to the sinfulness of failure
heard my story
and has come back to join us
because “the right vision will never fail to be funded”
“what a change in her life”
thanks to you, I presume,
Mr Professional Speaker.