‘Redwood forests. Hummingbird in flight. Keeping vigil at the bedside. The lion and the lamb. Snow-capped mountains. The path cleared. Queen Anne’s lace. The servant of the Lord. Pounding water on the shore. The blind see. The deaf hear. The path leveled. Hands are strengthened. A butterfly lighting. The crocus blooms. Water in the desert. The people singing. Knees are made firm. The hungry are fed. Justice for the oppressed. The proud are scattered. The lowly are lifted up. The farmer reaps. The prophet appears. The messenger is sent. The kin-dom of heaven. Majesty.’ (The Rev. Sharon Core)
‘Power’ by Morag Myerscough at the new Battersea Power Station redevelopment, Nine Elms, Battersea, London
‘A landmark installation for Battersea Power Station, that standouts from the surrounding urban architecture, a celebration of times gone by and to mark the beginning of a new era.’
‘We tend, during Advent, to focus on the birth of this child, Jesus, who comes to change everything for everyone. But this word, thirsty, reminds me of the price Jesus paid for all of us. As he was hanging on the cross, he said, “I thirst.” I thirst. Water is essential to sustain life, and Jesus needed it. We also need it, as much as we need Jesus, the baby whose birth we await, the child who went to the temple, the man who preached, taught and died for us all. We, too, are thirsty.’ (Helen Spence)
”The Hop’ by Jyll Bradley at the Hayward Gallery is about time, memory and light & reimagines the cultural history of 20th century London. The Hop is inspired by the thousands of women and children who travelled from South London to Kent every year to bring in the hop harvest, used in brewing beer. Standing at 4m high, the installation echoes the geometric design of a Kentish hop garden.’
‘When I think about the ministry of Jesus, often the first thing that comes to mind is that he was a preacher and teacher. When I was an elementary school teacher, I always looked forward to my students having a “lightbulb moment”—the moment when a concept they had struggled with suddenly became clear. Jesus was an extremely patient teacher. I imagine he would delight in the “lightbulb moments” he helped facilitate through his teaching. When have you experienced a “lightbulb moment?”
‘Exquisite Pain‘ by Damien Hirst at St. Bartholomew-the-Great’s Church (Great St. Barts), London’s oldest surviving church – adjoins St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (Barts) of the same foundation, one of London’s most famous teaching hospitals.
‘St Bartholomew was one of Jesus’ Apostles, who went to Armenia to preach the Gospel, where he was tortured to death by being skinned alive.
Damien Hirst uses the traditional imagery of the saint (which you can see in the Sistine Chapel and Milan Cathedral, for example) – holding his skin over his arm, clutching the knife that tortured him – but gave it a twist special to St Bartholomew’s Church and Hospital: the body is based on an anatomical model and the knife is a scalpel.
“I like the confusion you get between science and religion… that’s where belief lies and art as well.”‘ Damien Hurst
‘In pandemic times, one of the best ways to stay healthy is in isolation. But in every other circumstance, separating ourselves is a path toward unhealth—physically, mentally, and certainly spiritually. We need to be together. Binding ourselves to each other pushes away fear and despair, and together we discover more courage and hopefulness. In coming together, we unlock creativity and joy. In this season of preparation, we remember that God desires to be together with us, so much so that Christ came to walk alongside us and to live among us.’ (Katherine Bush)
‘WE’ by Jaume Plensa 2021, The Shard, London Bridge
“I call it ‘WE’ because I’ve been using alphabets from different cultures, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Cyrillic, Hindi and Latin. A group of letters alone means nothing, A-B-C-D-E, they are like cells that in collaboration with others become a text. It’s a beautiful metaphor about community, about society… ‘WE’ comprises two parts – one installed in The Shard’s piazza, one suspended above the escalator outside the building – facing each other as if in dialogue. The piece is designed to give members of the public a chance to frame their individual perspectives, as they walk through Shard Quarter, taking in one figure, followed by the other. By establishing a link between the two, they will be inspired to consider the notion of self, alongside the people around them.”
Borders, frontiers and walls, marking the edges of our property, kingdoms, countries, empires, our world ~ they’re as much part of the modern world as they were in ancient times. Where they relate to questions of sovereignty, trade, military power and control, so relationships between the peoples on either side of the border can be very tense. There can be anger, hatred, and even war. We see it with the invasion of Ukraine, and even more recently in Taiwan, facing Chinese retaliation for Nancy Pelosi’s visit.
Here in the UK, this year is the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall, begun in AD 122 in the reign of the emperor Hadrian, and built as the northern boundary of the Roman Empire. It runs 117 km (73 miles) across northern England at its narrowest part, not far north of the Lake District. These days, Hadrian’s Wall is a popular long-distance footpath and the best-preserved sections are well worth visiting, especially on a lovely sunny day….
So, with the sun coming up over Ullswater early yesterday morning, and the promise of a very hot day with no rain, I set off at the crack of dawn heading for Housesteads Roman Fort at Hadrian’s Wall, just over 100 km (68 miles) away….
From the English Heritage website: “In celebration of Hadrian’s Wall’s 1900th anniversary, English Heritage has installed a contemporary and colourful take on the original Roman gatehouse at Housesteads Roman Fort – one of the Wall’s best preserved and most important sites. Created by renowned artist, Morag Myerscough and the local community the temporary installation – called ‘The Future Belongs To What Was As Much As What Is’ – stands in the exact spot that the north gatehouse at Housesteads once stood. The colourful re-imagining of the gatehouse echoes the original building in size and as visitors can climb to the top, the installation opens up views of the ancient landscape, last seen by Roman soldiers 1600 years ago.
English Heritage’s Chief Executive Kate Mavor, said: ‘Hadrian’s Wall is one of England’s most iconic landmarks and to mark its anniversary, we wanted a meaningful way to connect people of 2022 back to AD122. We hope that placing such a bold contemporary art installation in this ancient landscape will not only capture people’s imagination but maybe also challenge their ideas of what the Wall was for. Not just a means to keep people out, but a frontier that people could – and did – cross. To create this work we’ve engaged with a wide range of community groups who have all played a part in making this such a striking and vibrant piece of art…and living history.'”
The words and pictures have all come from working with local community groups, all in connection with what Hadrian’s Wall means to them, living as they do, in the area, near the wall. These are the words I’ve chosen below (in no particular order, and in capitals, which is how they are written), as being meaningful for me as related to the wall and the border ~ and many reflect my own experience of living in Taiwan:
IT NAVIGATES MY JOURNEY / THREAT OF CHAOS / SKY / THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF THE JOURNEY / RAIN WITH SHARP TEETH / INTERNAL GATEWAY / PICTS / POWER / CONTROL / JOY / DESOLATE / BETWEEN / GUARDS / DIFFERENT DIMENSION / TIMELESS / WILD / ON THE EDGE OF THE UNKNOWN / FRONTIER / EVERLASTING AND STRONG / BORDER / BEING ON THE EDGE OF SOMETHING / WILD WIND WHISTLES / ALWAYS BEEN THERE / COLD WET STONE / CONNECTION / WARNING OR WELCOME / FAR AWAY / RESILIENCE / THAT LONELY FEELING / FRIENDLY PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE / REFLECT / GO BEYOND / ENDLESS STRETCH / THE EDGE LIKE THE SEA / JUST GET ON WITH LIFE / A VIEW FOR THE PAST / PORTAL / GAZE OUT / DIVISION / BARRIER / FREEDOM / GRIT / PEOPLE / HOME
Inspiring eh?! Well I think so, but it is not to everyone’s taste! There is of course plenty more to see along Hadrian’s Wall and at Housesteads Fort itself ~ and to put the art installation’s words and pictures into context, it is well worth exploring the wall, the fort, the area, everything – and especially walking along the footpath by the wall. From Housesteads, the path goes eastwards for about 2 miles up to Sewingshields Crags – get there early to get the sun and blue sky shining on the art installation from behind…
Then from Housesteads in the other direction, westwards, there is also a good footpath for about 4 miles to Steel Crag. The path by the wall is steep up and down all the way, but there is a lower path for the return journey which is easier, though there’s not much shade. Yesterday, there were hundreds of people walking along, and it was extremely hot, but hey – the blue skies looked great!
This is Sycamore Gap, check out that sycamore tree…
When I got back to Housesteads Roman Fort late morning yesterday, there was a camera crew from ITV Tyne Tees who were interviewing everyone about their opinions of the art installation. Ah yes, I did appear briefly at the very end of the news last night saying I thought the art installation was fantastic, and it had made my week, in fact my whole summer! 🤣🤣 This was the backdrop…
On my way back to the Lake District yesterday after Hadrian’s Wall, I came down the A6 from Shap which goes along the very edge, the border of the Lake District mountains, and I was reminded of my trip up the Kentmere Horseshoe a few weeks ago, on Tuesday July 26. Kentmere is north of Staveley, north of Kendal, and is a no-through road, surrounded by the mountains that make up the Kentmere Horseshoe. This is it …
Kentmere Hall is a pele tower, built as a fortress to protect the people and their animals from invaders, this being border country. Once out of Kentmere village, on the Kentmere Horseshoe, I was in heavy fog, but by late morning, dramatic scenery started to appear. It was such an amazing day! There are a small number of parking spaces for £3 donation at Kentmere Village Hall, next to the church, but you need to get there early – so I did! I followed the route up in the mist, clockwise, first to the Garburn Pass, then turning right for Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag, and up to the highest point at High Street 828m (2,715ft). High Street is the famous Roman Road, built by the Romans to link their forts at Brougham near Penrith and Ambleside. It’s believed to follow the line of a much older, prehistoric track. The mist lifted as I started down on the east side of the Horseshoe, with spectacular views from Mardale Ill Bell of Small Water & Hawes Water and from Harter Fell downwards to Kentmere Pike and Shipman Knotts. Total: 22 km, 1,139m of ascent.
The Kentmere Horseshoe starts and ends right next to Kentmere Church, St. Cuthbert’s Church, which is part of the group of churches that includes Troutbeck. The interior is made all the more bright and cheerful by all their beautiful kneelers on display …
Another border, another frontier recently ‘visited’ or scrambled over is Striding Edge on Helvellyn. This was Monday August 1. I was amazed to see a Lesser Black-Backed Gull (? to be confirmed – but has distinctive yellow legs) waiting to share my food (though it only liked bread – not bananas!) on the summit of Helvellyn, 950m (3,118ft), the third-highest mountain in England & the Lake District. Total: 14km, 946m of ascent from Patterdale via Striding Edge, described by Wainwright as “The finest ridge in Lakeland”.
Descent was via Swirral Edge, Catstycam, Red Tarn (for paddling) & Birkhouse Moor. A sunny morning, clouding over in the afternoon as forecast, the rain came later. The cheapest parking is in the Patterdale sports field, first turning left after the church, with £5 donation. I finished at Patterdale Church, it’s a ‘House for Duty’ church. The vicar works Sunday-Tuesday each week, in return for accommodation, but no salary. As I came down, a helicopter was flying overhead, I heard later a woman had fallen on Striding Edge and was airlifted to hospital, a sobering thought. It is reckoned to be quite safe as long as there are no high winds, snow or ice, but there are some dangerous bits, and a chimney to descend down which could be problematic if you fall.
And I wonder, how does my theme of ‘reimagining our borders’ fit in with the Langdale Pikes? Well, the challenges of stepping outside our comfort zones, crossing new frontiers physically and mentally, expanding the borders of our minds ~ that’s not the Langdale Pikes in particular, but I went up Pavey Ark by Jack’s Rake! 😱😱 We all need a new challenge every now and then, and mine was Jack’s Rake. Not sure if it’s the very first time I’ve ever done it or maybe the second – but the first time would have been decades ago, when I was a teenager. This trip was Friday August 5 ~ an exciting day on the iconic & spectacular Langdale Pikes! Starting from Dungeon Ghyll, going up to Stickle Tarn, then up a very steep, wet & slippery Jack’s Rake, which goes diagonally from right to left up ‘Langdale’s biggest cliff’, Pavey Ark. That diagonal line is visible from miles away, and up close it’s massive!
Jack’s Rake is officially classified as a rock climb of the easiest level, a ‘Grade 1 Scramble’, (same as Striding Edge, but completely different – and much harder, in my opinion!) which also means it’s a walk of about the hardest level – and it’s hard work! Wainwright says, “Walkers who can still put their toes in their mouths and bring their knees up to their chins may embark upon the ascent confidently; others, unable to perform these tests, will find the route arduous.” 🤣🤣. Exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure, with trying to find handholds and then grip onto the slippery rocks to haul yourself up, all the while trying not to look down over the exposed edges! Fortunately, there were others doing the same route who had done it before. Getting to the top in one piece was such a relief!
And so up to Pavey Ark and on to Harrison Stickle 736m (2,415ft), Loft Crag, Pike O’Stickle, Thunacar Knott, Sergeant Man and to the highest point of High Raise 762m (2,500ft) with incredible views north. Weather: A mix of showers and sunny spells all day. Total: 16km, 1,101m of ascent. “No mountain profile arrests and excites the attention more than that of the Langdale Pikes… nor is the appeal visual only: that steep ladder to heaven stirs the imagination, and even the emotions…” Wainwright. I agree!
Reimagining our borders also kind of fits in a little with the Church Mission Society theme of going to the edges, ‘With Jesus, With each other, To the edges’… which was the theme of my last CMS link letter. Now I’m working on my talks for my church visits while I’m in the UK. I just must include that art installation at Housesteads in my talk, it is so dynamic, so fantastic, so creative, so in yer face and I love it! If only we could creatively reimagine all our borders like that, break down the walls where they need breaking down, work together, cooperate and redesign where they need rebuilding, and have more such wildly creative art projects and installations in the most unlikely of border places that would challenge, inspire and make people smile and laugh ~ and make us all realise that life is not worth wasting on border disputes of any kind. Ah, there’s plenty of room for more ideas!
PS When I googled ‘border emojis’ up comes an emoji for passport control 🛂. ‘Passport control’ reminds me of Brexit, immigration, Rwanda, delays at airports, ports, trains plus the current UK political situation ~ all definitely and seriously in need of prayer, as are Taiwan, Ukraine and all countries facing serious problems with their neighbours. ❤️❤️
As you’ll have read in my link letter above, I’m preparing for my ‘home leave’ in the UK, so I’m busy saying goodbye to friends, schools and churches here in Taiwan. Last week, I said farewell to the 8th grade in our local junior high school…
Also said goodbye to St. John’s Cathedral English Congregation, where I’ve been going once a month for the last few years, helping out by doing the sermon. It was a joint celebration to say goodbye to Rev. Antony Fan-Wei Liang and his family – he’s in charge of the English congregation and moves in the summer to become vicar of St. Luke’s Church, Hualien. Everyone loves him so much! Thanks to the congregation for such a huge and delicious cake – the yellow is actually flakes of white chocolate!
We’ve also been celebrating graduation for members of our St. John’s University Student Fellowship, with a farewell party recently for them on the theme of Old School Graduation …
And on the day of the actual graduation (which was held online due to the pandemic), lots of students still came by, and we had photos in Advent Church…
In between all the celebrations, the pandemic continues. Although this current Omicron surge – which really got going only just after Easter – seems to have peaked and numbers are not as high as they were a few weeks ago, we are still seeing 50,000+ new cases and about 100-180 deaths per day. The total number of deaths from Covid now stands at 5,651, all but 850 or so occurring in this present Omicron surge – most have underlying conditions, about half unvaccinated.
Vaccination rates are now about 90%, and they’re about to start vaccinating children above 6 months. Borders are gradually opening up, and quarantine for all arrivals is now 3 days in isolation, followed by 4 days of self-health management, which can be done at home if requirements are met. That’s a vast improvement from not so long ago when it was 2 weeks of hotel quarantine for all arrivals. But many activities have been canceled or postponed or rearranged online and all with reduced numbers. Our summer camps are going ahead but numbers are about 1/2 to 2/3 of what we would normally expect. Economic hardship continues for many. Advent Church has responded to the diocesan ‘Love Your Neighbour’ Project (as mentioned in the diocesan Friendship Magazine, published in the previous post) to reach out to help those affected by Covid. For our students who are isolating due to Covid, we’ve been giving out small care packages…
And to those students who are receiving meal coupons, and our local junior high school students affected by Covid (as mentioned in my link letter), we gave out zong-zi for the Dragon Boat Festival at the beginning of June…
Then we had a fundraising project in Advent Church to raise money to provide care packages of basic essentials to local families affected by Covid…
We delivered 17 of these care packages to our local elementary school for them to deliver to children’s families. The principal and the chair of the parents’ committee were moved to join in and made financial donations themselves. This is us delivering the packages last week – it was pouring with rain!
When the rain stops, then we’re out and about! Cycled on the You-Bike into the sunrise, past the northern tip of Taiwan lighthouse, and around the northern coast to Yehliu Geopark. It’s full of stunning rock formations, most famously The Queen’s Head, which is having its neck gradually eroded by the wind and salty air…
Yesterday, my friend Chien kindly invited us to visit Juming Museum, featuring the sculptures and artwork of Juming 朱銘, a nice trip to say goodbye to each other as I leave for the UK soon. You need good weather for that place, but not too hot – and the day was perfect!
So a big thank you to everyone here in Taiwan for your blessings ~ and to you all for all your prayers and support!
And finally, as related to my CMS Link Letter above, check out this video from the CMS website, it’s really good!
The title, The Soul (Still) Trembles is taken from the exhibition by Shiota Chiharu running at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum until Sunday October 17. Accumulation – Searching for the Destination is the title of one of the exhibits, as mentioned in my link letter…
But the link letter already needs updating! Since I wrote it 2 weeks ago, things have improved further in Taiwan’s pandemic situation, most notably new rules that say facemasks are no longer required outside in ’empty open spaces’, like beaches and mountains. Yippee! Two more countries, Israel and Indonesia have just come off Taiwan’s list of high-risk countries facing enhanced quarantine rules, which now leaves only 3, India, Myanmar and the UK. More good news is that the number of people who have received their first Covid-19 vaccine has now reached the milestone of 60%. The rollout of second vaccines has just started too, though it’s not easy to get a booking locally – I had to go into Taipei on Tuesday for mine, coinciding with Typhoon Kompasu passing by. It was very very wet. #SoakedButVaccinated is the new hashtag. #VaccinesNotWarships could be another, as related to my link letter. Grateful anyway. Peering at the hospital through the rain ……
It’s the time of the year when the Asia-Pacific region has its annual military exercises, plus Mainland China and Taiwan each celebrate their own national days this month with displays of military might and patriotism, so there’s a lot of tension, as you will have seen in the international news. Thanks to all who have sent messages of concern. Taiwan has also been in the international news today after a deadly fire last night in a high-rise residential building in Kaohsiung, at least 46 people known to have died. Such a tragedy. One of our students lives in the same street as that fire, and watched it all happen. Really terrible.
It’s also the time of the year when we have our annual earthquake, tsunami and WanAn air-raid drill, receiving a text message for each event ….
Actually this year’s WanAn air-raid drill was held on the day we were all at the diocesan office in Taipei for our monthly birthday celebration lunch, kindly hosted by Bishop Chang for the diocesan office workers, plus others. In past years we would have to stay put for the 30-minute drill, due to restrictions on movement outside, but this year, due to the pandemic, there were no such restrictions. Anyway we had a wonderful lunch! Thanks to all these lovely people in the photo who helped everything go smoothly at recent church events: Rev. Chia-Kuei Wu’s ordination service, Yu-Lin and San-Yuan’s wedding and Rev. Samuel K. L. Liao’s Memorial Service.
I had cycled to the diocesan office that morning ~ and back in the late afternoon too. It’s such a fun way to commute to Taipei, along the riverside paths and into the city at the Dadaocheng Wharf, passing the RC Cathedral ….
Anyway, back to the typhoon, we had another typhoon a few weeks ago too, also with lots of rain, but not so much wind. Still, a few trees fell down on our St. John’s University (SJU) campus and the sea was rough for days afterwards….
The bank had covered up the SJU ATM machine as a precaution…
Otherwise, in-between typhoons, the SJU campus and the sea down below have been looking beautiful!
Last week, we joined the local junior-high school children from Xian-Xiao on a beach clean-up. The weather was stunning….
And over at the local elementary school, we celebrated Taiwan’s success at the Olympics (photos supplied by the school)….
And we also celebrated the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival with a 4-day weekend. Great chance for mountain climbing – and we went last weekend too. It’s the silvergrass season up in the Yangmingshan Mountains, while elsewhere, like Guanyinshan, its the citrus and chili season, plus spiders galore!
And finally, we all need a good book to read on a long trip to a vaccination centre in a wet and windy typhoon, and I recommend the latest in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Series… it’s so lovely!
Thank you all so much for your support. The soul may still be trembling with all that’s going on in the world, and in this region particularly, but your prayers are most appreciated.
This is us, facing a new situation in Taiwan, our collective soul trembling as a Covid-19 surge in Greater Taipei has suddenly wrenched us from our complacency that all was well. These last few days have seen the biggest community transmission numbers so far, and suddenly we find ourselves facing the reality that all of you elsewhere in the world have been dealing with for over a year.
Our little Covid-secure bubble of 23 million people has finally burst, the virus finding a way in through the Achilles Heel, namely airline pilots and crew, who were required to do just 5 days’ quarantine, rather than 14 days like all other arrivals. Living in our little bubble for so long has led to a false sense of security, so even those eligible for vaccines didn’t take up the offer, and the expiry date loomed. Now the rush is on; let’s hope many more of the 20 million doses ordered from overseas will be delivered soon. Meanwhile, Phase II trials of locally developed vaccines are nearly complete, and should be available in July. Until then, vulnerable is the word. It’s no wonder Taiwan’s soul is trembling.
‘The Soul Trembles’ is also the name of a new exhibition at the Taipei Art Museum, officially running from May 1 until August 29. Well it would be running if it was open, but only 2 weeks after opening, so it had to be closed, along with all other public buildings, under Taipei’s new restrictions. (Update July 13: the museum is now open for pre-booked visitors, and the exhibition has been extended to October 17)
The exhibition is by Japanese installation artist Shiota Chiharu (塩田 千春), based in Berlin. The title, ‘The Soul Trembles’ means for her, the ‘emotional stirrings of the heart that cannot be put into words’. She says, “In today’s contemporary age, everything changes at a rapid pace, and value systems are in constant flux: it can seem as if the firm and unyielding beliefs that society as a whole has relied upon are themselves being lost”. Seems fitting for Taiwan’s current situation. She specializes in using thread, representing links and connections, which she weaves all around the room in a huge web-like canopy. Her most amazing installation is called ‘Uncertain Journey’, a vast net of bright red woven threads coming from black metal frames of boats. Truly stunning.
Life is indeed one long uncertain journey. On Good Friday, we had a major rail disaster on Taiwan’s east coast with 49 people killed, over 200 injured. Taiwan’s centre and south are facing their worst drought in over 50 years, with big water and power cuts, threatening crops and Taiwan’s vitally-important semiconductor industry, the world’s largest. Internationally, we are all concerned about rising anti-Asian hate in the USA, UK and Europe. Seemingly contradictory headlines such as the 2020 global crime report that placed Taiwan as the world’s second safest country contrast greatly with The Economist’s front cover for May 1, 2021, declaring Taiwan to be ‘The most dangerous place on Earth’ (listed under ‘Superpower politics’, subtitled ‘America and China must work harder to avoid war over the future of Taiwan’). More soul-trembling food for thought.
Given all this, it’s really quite remarkable that Taiwan people are so calm and upbeat. And ready. Within a week, since 7 cases of community transmission were announced last Monday, rising to 29 on Friday then suddenly to 180 on Saturday, so everyone has retreated inside their homes, while all schools and religious groups have moved their activities online. For our churches, we remain grateful that we have got this far through the pandemic and only now have to cancel our Sunday services. I happen to be writing this in the 10-day period between Ascension Day and Pentecost, which in itself is a time of transition in the church calendar, reflecting the timing of events after the resurrection. It makes me realise how the disciples themselves had plenty of soul-trembling experiences on their own uncertain journeys of faith.
As I write this too, I realise that my own uncertain journey of faith started 60 years ago today, May 20, 1961, when I was baptized, all of 6 weeks old. In gratitude to God, family and friends!
Taiwan schools were still open last Friday, and I spent the day at our local elementary school. We played the game, ‘Twister’, where you put your hands and feet on different colours on the mat without getting all twisted up and falling over. I played too, it was such fun! One thing the children quickly learned was that if everyone on the mat is facing the same direction, it is so much easier, the game lasts longer and it’s more enjoyable. Cooperating together, making way for others, and keeping yourself balanced are the key. It works in life too.
Even if we don’t know how this current Covid surge is going to develop, and even if Christians in Taiwan cannot gather in person to worship this coming Pentecost Sunday or for the foreseeable future, still we can look forward to a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit as we step out once again in faith to continue our spiritual journey. We are sent out into the world to share the good news with our family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and those we meet on the way, and even if we cannot go physically, we are still called to action, which includes praying for each other. As we have prayed for you throughout this pandemic, so we also ask for your prayers for us all in Taiwan at this time.
Thank you, and may God go with us and be with us every step of the way.
The above is my draft ‘link letter’ that I sent to CMS yesterday, but as it takes about 2 weeks to process, so they have kindly agreed to me posting the draft here. Check back here for the pdf when it’s ready.
I first came across Shiota Chiharu’s art installations in the chapel at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2018, and immediately declared her to be my ‘new favourite artist’!These are the other installations in her current exhibition at the Taipei Art Museum….
Wishing you all a blessed Pentecost this coming Sunday!
Pingtung: yes, it’s THE place to be for Chinese New Year (aka Lunar New Year / Spring Festival)! Everywhere is beautifully and creatively lit up with lanterns, and the temples and streets are busy. Although the pandemic has meant less travel than usual and the cancellation of many large events, there’s still plenty of things going on, and most people are wearing face-masks most of the time, and staying away from too many crowds….
It’s also THE place to be on normal days too ~ there’s so much to see, so much to do! Highlights include the Confucius Temple, and Xianmin Cultural Park – containing the old sugar factory and paper mill, both of which have been restored – it’s a good place to visit at night, and there’s street art all over!
Pingtung is Taiwan’s far distant SW county, famous for everything that northern Taiwan is not – meaning hot sunny days, mild nights, sandy beaches, coconut trees, fields of rice and fruit, high mountains, indigenous culture, Hakka villages, wide streets, a slow and unhurried pace of life – and of course its traffic lights!
Pingtung City has over 30 sets of animated traffic lights where the little green man is proposing to his girlfriend on the red light and they’re walking hand in hand on the green light. In 2018, they introduced another 30 or so sets of traffic lights where they’re expecting a baby, and walking along as a family. Such fun! Check out this Taipei Times article here all about it. All so appropriate for Valentine’s Day this past weekend. Pingtung is just such a romantic city!
I was there for Chinese New Year, from February 11-15, kindly invited by good friend, Ju-Zi 菊子 ~ she’s the very lively chair of the church council at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Pingtung. Ju-Zi took me on the train to visit Zhutian 竹田, home to mostly Hakka people, and famous for its historical train station from the Japanese era, and the coffee shop in the converted rice mill. It turns out that Zhutian is also the original home town of my good friend Mrs. Hsu – her childhood home has been restored and also converted into a coffee shop and museum. Her father was a member of Pingtung County Council and the family photo is on the front wall of the house. Really great to experience and soak up the Zhutian atmosphere!