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Pastoral Letter

From the Rector - The Reverend Geoffrey Smith

1 May 2019

In the film ‘The Whale Rider’ a young Maori girl grows up in a community in decline. Her mother has died at her birth, as also her twin brother, whom her grandfather, the head of the community, had hoped would be the charismatic leader to deliver them from their present decline. The girl is keen to learn all she can about her people’s traditions but her grandfather opposes this. She is a girl! She can’t be initiated into the secret rites of leadership. For her to even think of this he considered to be blasphemy. He even blames her for the beaching of a school of whales, which the people try in vain to return to the sea.
The Maori’s have a very special relationship with the whales because they believe they were originally brought to land on the back of a whale, so the plight of this particular school of whales was a stigma on the whole of the community.
While they all retreat to their homes having failed in their attempts at rescue, the girl climbs on the back of the lead whale and as the tide comes in she turns his head to the sea to be followed by the rest of the school. In a mystical sequence she clings to the whale’s back as the school dives beneath the surface. “I was not afraid to die” she recalls later, for she had found the calling she was born to and even her grandfather at last acknowledges her as the wise leader they had been waiting for.
We have to have a clear conviction in our beliefs in order to be able to stand up and be counted. We all know examples of people who are absolutely certain of their beliefs yet lack credibility and can even be dangerous. Suicide bombers might be a modern example. Courage by itself is not a sign of truth, however, nor is authority. Wisdom and discernment are also essential to its full expression. Both in folklore and in the Scriptures truth doesn’t always come from where we expect. It may come from a child, it may come from an enemy. What such stories illustrate is how the truth is not the monopoly of any one person and all of us can be wrong at times.
Humility – being open to what we do not know, accepting that others can know the truths we are searching for – is also a crucial element in the exposition of truth.