Firstly – there is deep gratitude for who you are – who you will continue to be for us, and there is deep gratitude for your beloved Lynn who has enabled you to share your gifts with so many over such a long time.
For a moment, let’s imagine that each one of us is plodding through the ups and downs of everyday life – and you discover a campfire – a place to be warmed by the Spirit, tended by someone who knows how to listen deeply, who helps you see more clearly the pathway that leads to life, and who encourages you to keep trying.
Andrew, you’re the one who has tended the campfire for many of us – for some here today you’ve been a compassionate spiritual director, a wise supervisor – you’ve been an encourager and we’ve all benefited from your consistent trust that God is at work in us, no matter our circumstances or state of belief. Even in your dying, you and Lynn modelled that trust – in your end is indeed your new beginning.
At SGM, Andrew, as a core member of Workgroup and the spiritual director formation programme team, you tended the campfire over more than three decades. You’ve creatively led us in worship; you’ve gently but firmly streamlined our meetings and enhanced our group effectiveness … your wisdom and hard work behind the scenes enabled us to navigate things like budget challenges and the passing of friends; you’ve helped us to reshape and refresh the way we do things so we can keep our work relevant and responsive to God’s leading. And always there was your commitment to waiting upon God, and to deepening our Workgroup relationships.
Central to the ongoing effectiveness of SGM and the SDFP has been your safe, skilled presence – shown especially in the pivotal week-long residential training event at Waikanae – whether it was sending the trainees off on their ‘Contemplative’ exercise on the first morning, or presenting meticulously researched sessions on topics ranging from discernment to praying with icons, role-playing what a very competent director looks like, and practical things like helping manage the threat of flooding or awkward dynamics among the trainees … always there was your deepest respect for the individual soul being challenged to grow, and your support for the team’s efforts.
Thank you for your inspirational commitment to modelling contemplative spirituality in your own prayer practice and personhood – for the example you set of regular personal retreats and long walks to give space for your own soul to flourish – time that enabled you to be there for others as a non-judgmental, and non-anxious presence.
Don’t be embarrassed when I say – and mean – that in you Andrew we have seen the fruits of the Spirit come to maturity in this world.
Above all your mission was to help others draw closer to God –
Andrew – your mission is accomplished.
It is time to draw around you the campfire blanket which carries your life stories and our love and thanksgiving.
We will tend the fire.
E kare, haere i runga i te aroha; haere i runga i te whakapono;
haere i runga i te rangimarie. Kororia ki te Atua.