The Student’s Desk

That we may know Christ

Assuming the Experience of Disability: A Critique of the Netflix Film “Bird Box”

bird_box_(film)As someone living with a disability, one of the things that frustrates me is people without disabilities assuming what it’s like to live with a disability. While there may be some truth in their assumptions, these assumptions can also be very wrong.

Take blindness, for example. Most people have played some game where they have needed to be blindfolded. Therefore, being blind must be like wearing a blindfold all the time. Right?

This seems to be the assumption behind the Netflix film “Bird Box”. I wasn’t going to watch it, but when I saw a headline suggesting that the movie had inspired someone to drive while blindfolded which inevitably caused an accident (if that’s the right word – https://fox17online.com/…/driver-who-crashed-while-blindf…/… ), I was curious to know what fresh madness this was. So I watch it. Seeing how this movie is current, it’s well worth a comment. It wasn’t my kind of movie. It was more of a horror movie. To say I’m about to spoil the film would be overestimating its quality as you wont be missing much. But I’ll only spoil the relevant details.

The earth’s population is set upon by mysterious invisible creatures who make people see their worst fears. As a result, people either commit suicide or turn into a zombie-like state who in turn force others to look at these creatures who then suicide or turn into zombies. You get the picture. Lot’s of bodies. Lot’s of blood. Lot’s of mayhem. It’s hardly a celebration of the sanctity of human life. The only way to avoid being affected is not to make eye contact with these creatures. So you have our heroes in the movie running around wearing blindfolds, and driving a 4wd with the windows blocked out. Now, I’m sure they’ll be people who will watch the movie just to see how silly this is!

Now here’s why I’m raising the issue. In the movie, there is a group of people who remain unaffected by these mysterious creatures – people who are blind. So a refuge is set up in a school for the blind. Now, if you think blindness is like wearing a blindfold, it all makes sense. But if you know a bit about blindness, the movie looses all credibility – assuming it has any left by the time it gets to the school for the blind. While there is a form of blindness where there’s no light penetration at all (what may be assumed by most people), this is very rare. There are other types of blindness where people have some form residual sight, even if they can’t identify objects or people by sight. Other forms of blindness may allow a person to identify objects and people, yet their blindness can still pose a danger. This may explain the somewhat bizarre instruction by Jesus to a man born blind to “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (John 9:4). How can a man “Go” if he’s blind? It could very well be he had sufficient residual sight to navigate safely, yet unable to work or assume a productive position in the community. Yet it’s still right to consider him “blind”, and none of this doesn’t detract front the miracle of Jesus giving a man sight who had been blind since birth.

So, knowing this, I couldn’t help but wonder, how blind does someone need to be for someone to be immune to these mysterious creatures in the film? Would having advance cataracts have the same effect? It was yet another one of many loose ends left hanging by the film.

While I applaud the idea of one of the most vulnerable people in the community being framed positively as a “saviour”, I am again concerned that what is being portrayed is an abled-bodied person’s idea of having a disability. Ultimately, this is unhelpful for everyone. While people with disabilities may have commonalities, it remains to be appreciated that every disability is unique, and every experience of disability is unique. So we must treat portrayals of disability in the media with caution, and not use them to assume the experience of disability as we seek to connect with individuals.

 

First published on Jericho Road’s Disability Advocacy Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/disability.advocate.nsw/

 

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January 16, 2019 Posted by | Articles, Disability | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newsletter – 2018

2018 has been a very full year where I really haven’t stopped. This has been taxing on my energy levels, and I’m thankful God had sustained me through it all. 

DSC04858The year began with a week’s holiday at Mansfield in the foothills of Victoria’s high country. The highlight of the week was going 4WDing. With the prospect of changing vehicles, I decided to take the opportunity to do one more trip in the Delica with a mate driving his Prado. This was also  an opportunity get any last desires to go 4WDing out of my system. It was certainly a trip to finish my 4WDing aspirations with. The trip involved going over Mt. Stirling then on to Craig’s hut – which I found out was built only as a prop for the movie “The Man From Snowy River”. However, the views were worthwhile. It was the hardest bit of driving I’ve done with my truck getting on some very interesting angles as pictured. So, this quelled any desire to do this kind of thing again. I much rather do this kind of thing on the Monster (my off road trike). That’s not so expensive to fix when I break it, and much easier to recover when stuck!

I’ve had an extended time of leave from work this year to focus on my masters thesis looking at the relationship between Jesus’ healing ministry and the prophecies in Isaiah. This has been a much more difficult project than what I had anticipated. But, I’ve come this far, so I’m not about to quit now. I was able to get most of the work done, so the task remains to piece all my research together and figure out an answer – any answer right now would be great! My thesis is due at the end of 2019. I also rejoice I have a job that provides me the flexibility to study. 

Given the amount of time I have spent on study, I haven’t done as much in my role in my role as Disability Advocate as I would like. However I have managed to some book reviews, write articles, and post comments online. I also a went to some conferences on theology, the church and disability, which meant stepping outside my own theological tradition. This prompts me to do some critical thinking, which is always a good thing. One conference involved hanging out with Seventh Day Adventists for a few days. That was quite an experience for this conservative. A lot of thinking happened that week! Lately, I’ve been preparing a conference paper on a biblical model of human flourishing applied to people with intellectual disabilities which I will present early next year. This paper has led to some very interesting research which I’m enjoying.

Church services at Allambie Heights have continued this year, and at times, this has been difficult. But I’m very grateful for those who accompany me, and for the opportunity to share the gospel with these people. It is also with sadness I have to announce in 2019, after 18 years, this ministry in its present form will be discontinued. The government is no longer funding large hostel styled accommodation, and the residents will be moving into group homes out in the community, up to 5 to a home. As much as I think this is the better option, I had hoped the current arrangements would continue given the age of the people. I expect this will be a massive change for them. If a ministry is to continue, I’m unsure what form it will take. So this is a matter for prayer. 

D85_168311-280181110Revolve12+12_1225x817_2749176Despite the business, I’ve been determined to keep cycling as I see health and fitness being key to being able to do everything I do. There have been a number of highlights on the bike this year. One was seeing the end of knee pain. I’ve experienced severe knee pain on the bike for years after a couple of hours riding. I just took it as part of cycling with cerebral palsy. However, under the NDIS, I’ve been having regular physiotherapy, during which, the cause of the knee pain was  discovered. I subsequently had adjustments made to my pedals, and haven’t had knee pain since. I’ve been able to pedal more comfortably, more efficiently and further, which has allowed me to enjoy more cycling. Another highlight was competing in an 80km race at Eastern Creek Raceway. I had doubts l would complete the full 80km. But the way I saw it I had 3 hours without cars, pedestrians, dogs, or kids on scooters, to ride as hard and fast as I wanted. That was worth spending money on! Eastern Creek Raceway is much more undulating than what it appears on TV. But I managed to go the full 3 hours nonstop covering 60km. I was happy with that effort. More impressive still, I was back on the bike just 3 days later. It would have been 2 but… time management! Another highlight has been FINALLY getting the Monster back. It’s been having an electric assistance motor fitted which was a fight all the way to the end. But it’s now working and meeting expectations. With 6hrs+ run time from the battery, all-day adventure rides are a definite possibility. I am very much enjoying climbing  hills with friends these days. Although my friends don’t seem to share my enthusiasm. 

IMG_0065The return of the Monster forced my hand to do something about a new van, which I expect it would. The motor and battery added at least 10kg to the Monster which is now too heavy for me to lift into the Delica. The second time I lifted the Monster into the Delica I hurt my back. So it was off to the car yards to find a van with a nice low floor. There’s plenty of nice offerings in the commercial van market, so it wasn’t an easy choice. Vans have come a long way since I was growing up! I finally settled on a Renault Master (demo model pictured), and I expect to take delivery late February or early March. A lot of the decision making came down to which manufacture was going to give the most cooperation, of which one manufacturer completely failed! After the initial running in period, the next task will be to fit the van out as a camper. This will be the major project for 2019 (aside from my masters). In some ways, this is the culmination of a project that’s been going on for just over 20 years. I began with pack-biking and over the years have progressed through different vehicles with different camp setups. Having been campervanning in NZ a couple of times (I won’t mention the US!), I know this is something that works for me, and I’m now looking forward to having my own campervan. Then I’ll be able to visit churches in the far flung corners of the state in comfort, and with my thesis done, attend some recumbent events in NSW and Victoria. 

This month also marks 20 years since I moved out of my parents home. For most people, this is hardly anything to mark. But for me, I was still very dependent and didn’t know if living on my own was going to work. On one hand, it’s remarkable that time has gone by so fast. On the other hand, so much has happen in that time, it seems much longer than 20 years! I’m pleased to have my health and fitness after all that time, and I have much to give thanks for.

So, next year I can look forward to winding up as I finish my masters, and sadly a ministry; and winding down as I enjoy camping with the new van.

Giving thanks for your support and prayers.

JASON

 

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Newsletter – Christmas 2017

Is it Christmas already? What just happened? If 2016 was the year of the project, 2017 was the year of the revolving door (metaphorically speaking). It has been a constant cycle of work, study, and cycling. It’s been tempting to put cycling on the back burner, but I know what happened last time I did that, and I’m not going there again!

Work has involved research in the disability studies area, which may seem strange – why would a person with a disability need to read up about disabilities? Alas, I’ve had to, which I’ve found quite challenging. I’ve uncovered some hard truths which I would have been happy to remain blissfully ignorant of. Much of it has to do with the way disability is perceived by “expert” figures. At the same time it’s been good to find out why I’m so frustrated these days. All of this is relevant for developing a pastoral approach towards people with disabilities, which I’m still working on.

Work has also meant traveling. In April I met with Central Tablelands Presbytery at Bathurst to promote my work. This also provided an opportunity to having a weekend off camping at Mt. Canobolas, Orange; catching up with friends at Dubbo – including a lap around the zoo on my trike. I’m not sure which was the bigger attraction – the animals or my Monster trike! I also spent two nights at the Warrumbungles. After gaining special permission to take my trike onto the trails (mountain biking is not permitted), I managed to destroy one tube by trying to inflate it, and my spare had a hole in it. So I didn’t get to go cycling! It was nice to get away for the weekend, nonetheless. I’ll have to go back there and finish what I started.

In June, I had a quick dash to Albury to run a workshop, and there’s nothing quick about a dash to Albury! This was well received. I also had 5 mins to speak at their Sunday service about sharing the gospel with people who have intellectual disabilities. This had a positive impact in ways that I was not expecting. A variation of what I shared is in this month’s Presbyterian Pulse magazine.

In August it was another quick dash, this time up to Northern NSW visiting the Presbyteries of Northern Rivers at Alstonville and the North West at Inverell (I know, Inverell isn’t really northwest!).  Again, what I shared was well received. By this time, one of my trikes had managed to find its way back out of the shop and onto the road reconfigured for the road. So I took this one with me and went for a ride at Iluka. It was here I really found out narrow tires really don’t work on coarse road surfaces. There was also provided an opportunity to catch up with a college buddy who’s about as crazy as I am, just in different ways. In all, I covered around 1,500km in 4 days. I knew about that afterwards!

In December I flew to Melbourne for a Luke14 co-ordinators gathering (Luke14 being the training program I use at work for including people with disabilities). It was nice to be in Melbourne again, catching up with acquaintances and seeing how we can continue to advance this work. I also had the honour in November of being on a Q&A panel at a conference in Parramatta discussing where scholarship is on the topic of theology and disability. It was interesting being on a panel with one person coming from a medical perspective, another from a Pentecostal perspective, and me with a conservative perspective all with first hand experience living with disability. It was also interesting having just read a doctoral thesis on the image of God in people with cognitive disabilities which promised so much but delivered so very little! So I had some things to say on that. My oh my, there’s work to be done!

One big thing to happen this year was the acceptance of my proposal for my research masters thesis, which I spent over 6 months trying to figure out what I wanted to write about. In fact I still wasn’t completely sure when I submitted it. I had a broad idea, but some of the particulars hadn’t been worked out. My topic is looking at the relationship between Jesus’ healing ministry and the prophecies in Isaiah. Anyway, I’ve been given the green light, and I’ve been going flat out trying to get my head around Isaiah – which I’ve been told is not possible. But, I’m not very good at listening, so I’m trying regardless. Am I going to get my head around Isaiah? Probably not! But I dare say I’ll have a better understanding then most. At least I’ll know enough not to impose modern concepts of disability onto an ancient text just because I, as the reader, detect a parallel with some mentioned conditions. Discussion to be continued.

Last time I mentioned a number of trike projects, so an update is probably in order. The tandem is still in the shop in the non-functioning state I dropped it off in. As mentioned, my road trike is back on the road, and that’s been an interesting (and expensive!) lesson in what does and doesn’t make a trike fast. The Monster has been in the shop for a number of months having the electric assistance motor fitted. It’s been a nightmare of a job having to fabricate and modify parts to get things to fit, and ensure it can all take a beating – it will need to! But, progress is being made. In terms of rides, while holidaying at Elizabeth Beach (south of Forster) in December, I had my road trike and took the opportunity to ride part of the Wootton Way between Bulahdelah and Wootton. It use to be part of the Pacific Hwy and was a notorious section of road, infamous for motor vehicle accidents and major delays. Since the motorway has been completed, it’s become a forgotten ribbon of bitchumen winding across two mountain ranges. It made for and awesome ride. Hard, but awesome!

Nothing more has happened on the camper van project apart from looking into which vehicle to go for. I’ve been waiting to get the Monster back so I can throw it in the back of some vans and get an idea of how everything is going to fit. This could throw all my thinking out again and I could need to rethink my whole approach. I hope not. While holidaying at Elizabeth Beach, I began to notice my truck is really getting old. It still pulls like a train, but peripheral issues are starting to occur more often. So, I think I’m going to have to do something about a new van in 2018.

Another big thing this year was getting on to the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme). Initially I was knocked back because I was too “high functioning.” All my life I’ve been encouraged not to worry about what I can’t do, just focus on what I could do. For all its propaganda, the NDIS does not share this focus. What ensued was a 2,700 word document detailing all the ways having cerebral palsy impacts my life – or in less politically correct terms, how my disability makes me a victim! As strange as this may sound, it’s something I really hadn’t thought about. I’ve always just worked out what I wanted to do and went looking for a way to do it – always with a bit of help to get things set up to start with. But, as I’ve learned, such an attitude goes unappreciated by the “experts.” Apparently, there’s an expectation for me to sit back and have everything done for me. Well, I don’t operate that way! The NDIS doesn’t understand this. So now my diary has appointments to help “manage” my “problematic” life. On the whole, I feel the NDIS has taken away some of my independence rather then enhanced it. But, it’s what I have for now, so I’ll just make best of it until I’m in a position where I can set things up the way I want. Having said that, it is nice to have regularly physiotherapy to iron out all the spasms in my back. That does make a difference which I’m very thankful for.

Church services at Allambie Heights continue once a month. It’s been several years since we had gone through the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. So we’ve been revisiting the accounts  seeing how God can bring about his purposes through very difficult circumstances. This is something we all need to remember. It’s been interesting for me to go through these accounts while studying Isaiah. There seems to be a number of typological connections to the life of the nation of ancient Israel. Not that I went into such detail with the people there. The focus was on trusting God no matter what. Some new people have started to come along regularly which has been a huge encouragement. They are very intentional about following Jesus, and are interact with what I’m saying.

That pretty much sums up my year. It’s been a very full year, and I’m not expecting 2018 to be much different. The pressure will be on to get my thesis done, so I just need a keep chipping away as much as I can.

Thank you for all you prayers and support.

December 24, 2017 Posted by | Newsletters, Sermons, Site News | , | Leave a comment

Enough with the Rainbow-fart: A plea for compassion

caballito 1
This image of a unicorn passing a rainbow-fart pretty much depicts  what I think of the quality of debate around same sex marriage (SSM) from both sides. I believe the biblical term is σκύβαλα (skybala). The word is found in Philippians 3:8, and its meaning is much stronger then the NIV’s translation of ‘rubbish’. It’s a debate that really hasn’t benefited anyone.

My summary of the debate thus far is to say peace-loving progressives are being militant, while the well-considered conservatives are just being stupid and insensitive.

From progressives we have seen reports of people being denied employment for opposing SSM, calls for other public figures to be denied employment, and opponents of SSM being verbally abused. Progressives and SSM proponents have been assuring the public that SSM will have no impact on freedom of speech, religion, and education, while the experience of nations that have passed SSM demonstrates these areas are impacted.

Meanwhile, conservatives are putting forward arguments which, in all honesty, can’t really be sustained. Lachlan McFarlane wrote a blog explaining that though he’s a conservative Christian, he intends to vote ‘yes’ to SSM (https://lachlanmcfarlane.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/im-a-christian-and-i-intend-to-vote-yes-to-same-sex-marriage/). While I disagree with his conclusion and find his view of marriage lacking, his criticisms of many of the arguments put forward by conservatives are worth considering. It’s concerning that some conservatives have also resorted to violence.

Then there’s the suggestion that LGTBI+ people are just confused. My view is that LGTBI+ people have already been through massive amounts of confusion, and have had to work through a lot of issues. To reduce their complex experience down to a one sentence explanation, or a platitude, or to say they’re just confused is insulting, and does them a disservice.

No matter what the outcome of the SSM survey on November 15, there will not be any winners. Only losers. Don’t think the announcement of the outcome will put an end to the matter either.

The question I want to raise here is, after all the damage has been done, who is going to pick up the pieces? Where are people on both sides of the debate going to find healing, now and many years into the future as the debate continues and the great rainbow-fart keeps being contributed to? As the debate continues well after November 15, more people will struggle as they come to terms with their own sexuality, and sexuality in general.

My concern is the church should be the place where people can find reconciliation and healing. However, for those people who struggle to conform to the biblical ideal for sexuality, the church can be a very difficult and threatening place. Phil Campbell explains in his article, Somewhere Over the Rainbow (https://australia.thegospelcoalition.org/article/somewhere-over-the-rainbow-1), that, “Most Christians have had a poor understanding of the LGBTIQA community.” I want to state that more strongly and suggest most Christians don’t have a clue about alternate forms of sexuality and sexual expression. Sexuality is rarely discussed in Christian forums or from the pulpit. Sadly, the rare thing that is said about sexuality fails to address the issues that some people are having to struggle with. It should scandalise us Christians when those with sexual struggles are finding solace in a pseudo-maxist postmodern philosophy rather then find healing in the gospel. That is, to find the final resolve to our struggles in the resurrection of Jesus – new life for eternity. Instead, the rejection of the gospel often provokes us Christians to be judgemental, which is all the more tragic.

It’s not only same sex attracted people who struggle with sexually. It’s also people who are single for one reason or another. Those who struggle with a “different” form of sexual expression. My concern is that anyone who’s sexuality does not conform to what is expected of sexual expression in the Christian culture, they are feeling the effects of the debate more than others. It also seems to me that the church needs to develop an understanding and an appreciation of the diversity of sexual expressions that exist with in the community.

It may be said that Christian’s shouldn’t struggle with sexuality. That somehow they are to embark on a Platonic ascent, rising above their carnal desires, and thereby resolving their sexual struggle. Such ascents are mere fantasy. If you are a Christian and you do not struggle with anything, I’m compelled to ask you, where have you compromised? If life isn’t difficult, what fantasy world have you constructed for yourself that affords you the luxury of pretending that you have your life together? Nowhere in the Bible does God command his people to embark on a Platonic ascent. Christians struggle, and fantasy worlds come crashing down. That’s life!! Christians struggle with relationships, finance, addiction, greed, materialism, disability, sickness, mental health issues, and so on. The area of sexuality is no different. Instead, Christians are called to persevere in their struggle. Christians are to persevere in furnishing their faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1:5-7), and part of this is being reminded of the grace God has given us (vv3-4). Perhaps another part of this is having God’s grace spoken directly into the areas where people are struggling, and being grace to them.

The impact of having grace spoken directly into a persons struggles can be dramatic. I know of two different men who struggled with their alternate sexuality for many years. The first man never felt there was the opportunity for him to talk about his struggle. As a result, he never received the pastoral care he needed. He didn’t hear God’s grace applied to his circumstances, and stopped persevering as he had been, which also impacted negatively on those around him. The second man was able to find a listening ear. He did receive pastoral support, and has been able to explore how God’s grace applies to his circumstance. He has been able to persevere, grow in faith, and continues to serve the Christian community in many ways. He still struggles greatly, and the Christian culture can be very difficult for him at times. But he knows that he is supported. Taking a cue from Rachel Gilson, in discussing her struggle with lesbianism, she explains, “Heterosexuality is not the end goal; faithfulness to God, and the joy that comes from relationship with him, is what we run for.” (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/october/i-never-became-straight-perhaps-that-was-never-gods-goal.html?share=44rkqx2CuX6frhIrpgLL8EM5B6hZ7KAm). While the struggle is different in all three cases, the point to be pursued is the same – faithfulness to God. The importance of pastoral support cannot be overstated for those who struggle with sexuality and alternate sexual expression.

So I want to make an impassioned plea for compassion – Christ’s compassion. I’m not asking people to endorse lifestyles and behaviours that don’t conform to the Bible. But I am asking Christians to stop contributing to the rainbow-fart. To start appreciating the fact that people are struggling. Seriously struggling! James Parker, a former gay activist, explains when he began to take an interest in Jesus and the Bible, no one confronted him about his homosexuality. No one told him, “You can’t be doing that.” Instead, they accepted James as he was, and focused on establishing a solid relationship with Jesus. As he grew in his faith, he began to realise what he was doing was inconsistent with the Bible, so he turned from his homosexual practice. Same-sex attraction is still an issue for him, but having come to understand what it means to be the man that God created him to be, and out of his love and faithfulness towards Jesus, he does not engage in those practices. Establishing people in a relationship with Jesus, and encouraging them in their Christian faith, and reminding them of God’s grace in relation to their sexuality needs to remain the focus.

It’s not just LGBTI+ people who struggle. It’s also straight people. It’s people with disabilities. It’s people who are divorced. It’s people who have buried their spouse. It’s people who may never marry. As this debate continues, more and more people are going to struggle. So we as Christians better figure out how to start loving them, and how to speak God’s grace into their lives.

I don’t know all the ins and outs of how to do that. But a constructive conversation must start with appreciating that people are struggling. That’s a conversation I’m keen to see started.

© The Student’s Desk

October 27, 2017 Posted by | Bible, Religious | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newsletter – Christmas 2016

2016 has been the year of the project, or more accurately, the projects! I’ve always had one project or another going, and I’m not happy unless I have a project to work on. But this year there’s been more projects than what I’d like.

Working with Jericho Road has seen many projects, from trying to get my head around the NDIS, to reviewing policies, to becoming aware of issues people with disabilities face. A large portion of the year has been spent reviewing the Commonwealth Government’s Senate Committee Report on violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings, including the gender and age related dimensions, and the particular situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability. There’s a title if there ever was one! Strangely, even though I grew up in the “disabled world” the report revealed a side to Australia I was blissfully unaware of, and one which I found very disturbing. The day I wrote this newsletter, I read yet another report of a school student with a disability being sexually harassed by another student, and others left on a school bus and neglected. Yet, reflecting back on my experiences, in the final analysis, none of this really surprises me. I have now finished summarising my summary of the summary of the enquiry which still summarising! It’s a big issue, to make an understatement. Nonetheless, the greater task at hand is to work out how, as a denomination, we can begin to the respond to these issues. If Christ reached down to the depths of human depravity in order to redeem it, then so must his church! But to achieve that, we’re going to need a bigger think tank that comprises of more than just my head!

Other projects have been in the transport department. I had been spoilt by my last trip to New Zealand 2 years ago. Even though the camper I rented was a bucket of rusty bolts (the one’s that were still there!) and was horrible to drive, everything on the camping side of things was usable and made for the best holiday I’ve had. So I began to think seriously about converting my truck into a camper. Then the head gasket blew – big dollars there! So, I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about what sort of camping setup do I want, should I be changing vehicles, and if so what vehicle, and how I would want it set up? In the end, I was reluctant to spend the money converting a vehicle that is now 20 years old. It’s at the stage where something will go wrong with it. The question is what? This doesn’t bother me unless I’m a long way from home. So, I’ve made the decision to change vehicles in the next few years, and find someone who will fit out the new vehicle the way I want – not someone who thinks he thinks he knows what I think I need… I think. It’s not an urgent project, but it’s simmering away in the background.

Trikes, trikes, and more trikes. How many trike projects can one person have going on at once? 3, apparently! It’s now been over a year since my fastest trike has come out of the shop. A critical component failed in 2015, which is no longer made. The part was shipped off to the manufacturer, and after 3 months, the manufacturer decided they couldn’t repair it! Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with it. It hasn’t helped that I keep changing my mind every 5 minutes! I had intentions of buying another trike with full suspension, and build it for the road – I do like suspension! But, with a new van in the pipeline, I decided this probably wasn’t wise, and made the decision to make my existing trike as fast as possible. Some may find this a scary prospect!
While this was going on, I was given a tandem recumbent trike, complete with a trailer that the occupant can peddle. I didn’t want it, but I feared it would end up on the scrap heap if I didn’t take it. A machine like this should not be on the scrap heap! It should be out on the road being enjoyed. I looked at the trike the morning after it was dropped off and decided it was a strip down and rebuild job. My bike mechanic agreed. So, I took it upon myself to have it restored. Hopefully I can find a buyer who can appreciate its value and use it.
Then there’s the never-ending story of the Monster (my offroad trike). I picked up a friend’s mountain bike and realised I was never going to compete with that – at least not going up hill. The decision was made to fit an electric assistance motor – which is still sitting on my living room floor. It’s a decision I’ve been resisting. I like competing with friends, even though my trike twice the weight of their bikes. A motor would take all that away. But, the way I was going up the steepest hills, I was either going to break the trike, or break myself, or possibly both! Besides, I’m hoping the motor will give the trike more versatility, and open up other opportunities.
Meanwhile, my touring trike is the only vehicle that hasn’t needed major repairs! It’s done 2,500km between since its last service, which is astonishing – although it needs a service now. This has allowed me to build on my fitness. With everything going on, I’ve changed to shorter, more intense rides less often. This seems to have had an impact. Even though this isn’t my fastest trike, I’m matching some of my fastest times. Some may wonder why I put so much prominence on cycling. As I found out a few years ago, it’s quite simple – if I’m not fit, I don’t function. So, I remain thankful that I can get out on my trike.

However, the biggest project started this year has been my research master’s of theology. I had to begin by completing a research methods subject. To be honest, I thought this was a bit rich. After 10+ years of study, I’d expected I would know how to put a paper together! It turned out I didn’t, and found the subject quite useful. Studying at this level is a whole other ball game. I realised a research master’s is pretty much a baby doctorate. It’s just shorter, and not quite as intense. But my supervisor keeps assuring me I can do it. No doubt I can!
At this stage, I’m preparing a proposal for my topic to present to the academy. This is a big enough project in itself, which involves a lot of study. The more I know what my paper will contain, the better I can present the proposal. I’ve never read so much in my life! It’s almost like I need to come up with an answer, then get permission to submit my answer. Not quite, but almost! There is flexibility to make changes after approval. So far, I’ve narrowed my topic down to, “How does Jesus’ healing ministry to people with disabilities fulfil the prophecies in Isaiah?” There’s three big topics right there – the development of perceptions of disability, the gospel of Luke, and Isaiah. To put the question simply, “Why did Jesus heal people?” I’m really am responding to liberal theologians who see the healing by Jesus to be metaphorical, and conservative theologians who see disability as being a direct consequence of the Fall, thus Jesus’ healing ministry is part of reversing the effects of the Fall. Neither position I agree with. That is, I agree Jesus came to reverse the effects of the Fall, but I don’t think the elimination of disability was part of that reversal. Hence my question. So far, I’ve been very much enjoying it, and I praise God for the support I’m receiving from Christ College. I’m being looked after very well. I’m also thankful for my work who allow me to manage my time as I need I expect to graduate in 2019 – mark the date!

I did manage some travelling this year. Though, for once in the past four years, I managed to stay in the country. I had four days in the ACT when I went to visit the Presbytery for work in late February. That made for a nice short break taking in some of the sights of Canberra, included the War Memorial, which was quite an experience! I had another week in the ACT in June working with Gungahlin Presbyterian Church as part of my advocacy work. That was a non-stop week. I even managed to get a 30km mountain bike ride in with one of the members, which I really regretted the next day when I had to preach! But it was a lot of fun. It reminded me a lot of mission trips with college, except the mission team this time consisted of one – me! I managed to do a quick 10 day trip to Victoria, taking in a conference on Spirituality and Disability as part of my work – I didn’t present (probably a good thing given the theologically liberal nature of the conference). This also gave me the opportunity to catch up with friends around Victoria. Later on in the year, I enjoyed a couple of camping weekends with friends from church at Belbora and Newnes. Happily, the Monster came out both times, and had I some enjoyable rides.

The ministry at the Allambie Heights Cerebral Palsy Alliance continues. By now, I was hoping to have offloaded some of the work. But no one has stepped up. Services are now once a month, and if I’m away, or sick, that makes for a big gap between service. Yet, the regulars remain eager to come, and occasionally, one or two extras join us. We had our Christmas service at the start of December and a number of people came along who aren’t regulars. This was exciting to see, and I pray something of the gospel caught their attention. I’m also thankful for the many people who help me with this ministry.

2017 is shaping up to be another big year. Some how, I need to keep cycling, so I can keep working, so I can keep studying, so I can know God’s word and apply it all the more. The trick will be to manage all this without becoming overworked. So, as always, I appreciate your prayers and support as we all enter the new year by God’s grace.

December 27, 2016 Posted by | Newsletters, Site News | , , | Leave a comment

“Yes I can…” has it’s limits.

The “Yes I can…” Paralympic campaign is an impressive bit of film with lot’s of positive aspects. A lot of people have been encouraged by the campaign, and I’ve been hesitant to comment as a result. But I will comment as there are some aspects that are worth questioning.

This ad does a number of things really well. Incidentally, this ad was discussed on Gruen this week. It challenges the perception that people with disabilities are disempowered and are to be the subject of pity, and blows it to smithereens. People with disabilities can be just as empowered as anyone else, and if you get in their way, they’ll run over you with their wheelchair. It’s also putting disability in the public conscienceless in a really positive light, and that disability isn’t anything to be afraid of.

As a recreational cyclist, I understand getting fit and staying fit is hard work. When you have a disability, it’s really hard work that requires a ridiculous amount of commitment. I get it. For my mates to do what they do, they need to be fit. For me to do what my mates do, I need to be super fit. And I’m extremely thankful that I have a job where I can make cycling one of my day’s priorities. These guys ought to be congratulated and celebrated. Quite frankly, who cares about the medals? What the guys have achieved is absolutely amazing! And I said the same about athletes without disabilities.

But I actually don’t like this ad. I don’t like it for sociological, philosophical and theological reasons. Socially, people with disabilities have had (and still have?) a tendency to be seen as sub-human. It’s an existence of otherness. To counteract that tendency, the perception is being swung the other way so that now perceived as super-human. In religious terms, the demon had been made a deity. Now, it’s an improvement in the way that people with disabilities are perceived. But It is still an existence of otherness. At the end of the day, it’s not that much more helpful. People with disabilities have concerns, interests and aspirations they want embraced the same as anyone else.

Philosophical, it plays into an ableist framework where personhood and personal worth are validated by ability. It is such frameworks that has oppressed people with disabilities in the first place. We need to be finding other level grounds to validate one’s personhood.

Theologically, it’s honouring self rather than God. It needs to be said, outside of the Christian context, why would you do anything else? 20 years ago, I would’ve had the same mind. But with my grace oriented theology, I consider my achievements to be not as a result of psyching myself up with a mantra “Yes I can!”, but as a humble realisation that God has given me this ability, and I’m going respond to that grace by honouring him in the way I use my ability. And sometimes that means using a little less ability – especially on the bike.

Yes, let’s put disability on the social conscience, not as people who a sub human or super human, but as those who share in a common humanity.

September 2, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Newsletter – December 2015

2015 proved to be a very challenging year for me, and I’m pleased the year has ended. This is not to say their were highlights and great blessings along the way.

The year began at Jindabyne, and I thoroughly enjoyed cycling through the Australian alps (what us Aussies call ‘alps’ anyway!). Soon afterwards, I was on a plane to California to attend the Global Access Conference – a gathering of one thousand disability ministry leaders and likeminded people from around the world. The conference was organised by Joni and Friends. This provided an excellent opportunity to reflect upon God’s desire for his church concerning people with disabilities. It was also an opportunity to hear what God is doing through his people around the world in relation to people with disabilities.

This was my first long haul flight, and therefore my first experience of significant amounts of jet lag. Seeing two sunrises within 24hrs, and having a 2nd breakfast really messed with my mind. I had been going for 24hrs when Jeff took me out to breakfast. Here, I was met by a very exuberant waitress with a broad American accent asking me, “Howya doin’?” In hindsight, I would’ve liked to answered, “I’m half past dead… How y’ol doin’?” 15hrs in an airborne tin can, and I’m not as quick as I usually am!

This was also my first time in the U.S., and the difference in culture came as quite a shock. Especially when I went venturing off in an RV. I have to say, most people were hospitable, and would do anything to help you out. There also seemed to be a greater awareness of the needs of people with disabilities. However, other things like having to prepay for petrol, or just finding food that hadn’t been processed to within an inch of  its life added a lot of frustration. My choice of method to go sight-seeing was to hire an RV. I had hired camper vans in New Zealand, and a great old time. So I just figured what works in New Zealand would work in the U.S.. This proved to be untrue. Campsites were few and far between, and were typically around the $US40 mark. Then there was the RV itself – 25ft long, 12ft high, 10ft wide weighing in at 5.5tonne. In Australia, I would’ve needed a medium-rigid license to drive it! I have no interest in driving something of that size on public roads again. I would have been better off in a car and staying in hotels – lesson learned!

I have to also say I’m very thankful to Jeff and Kathi McNair who opened their home to me, and let me hang around when things weren’t going to plan. This provided me with the opportunity to see Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon, two of the most amazing places I have been to. Especially the Grand Canyon where the rim was laden with snow. It provided such a contrast with the desolate canyon below.

All this took place while I was in the middle of writing a thesis. Late 2014 I began discussing with my college the possibility of doing a research masters. As I didn’t yet have a enough credit points, I agreed to write a Hebrew Exegesis paper on Genesis 3:16-19 discussing whether or not disability was a direct result of The Fall. Despite the rushed job at the end, I managed to obtain a distinction. I was most pleased with this result as I did not do Hebrew exegesis as part of my degree. I had only studied the language. The result was also impressive as I was challenging some long held theological assumptions. So in 2016 I plan to commence my research masters looking at the place of disability in salvation history. This should keep me going for a few years.

Work has also been challenging as I have done a lot of work looking at the place of disability in society. It’s not pretty! I’ve researched the issue of young people with disabilities living in aged care facilities which exposed me to a host of issues I was previously unaware of. I have also written book reviews on Megan Best’s book, “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” which, in part, looked at the impact reproductive technologies are having in relation to disability; and Michael Oliver’s book, “The New Politics of Disablement” which looks at where our modern concept of disability has come from, and where it is going. Late in the year, I had the opportunity to think about and prepare a paper on “Church Leadership, Disability, and the Glory of God” which has served to demonstrate how the inclusion of disability requires robust theology, and the willingness to apply it. The publication of these works are still pending.

Church Services at Allambie Heights Cerebral Palsy Alliance continue, although not as frequently with me being overseas, and writing my thesis. Nonetheless, we have managed to look at King David in the Old Testament, and the kind of faith he had, and the Miracles of Jesus, and what they have to tell us about him. It was also a shock to learn of Pat’s sudden death this year. Pat had been coming from the beginning, and had always made her presence known in one way or another. She is missed.

My cycling renascence continues to be a blessing, and a great release for my frustrations. As I said at my 40th birthday party, I’m glad to be 40 years old, and still able to act half my age. There was an addition to my trike collection this year with an Ice Full Fat trike which I’ve dubbed, “The Monster”. With 26×4” tires on all 3 wheels, it’s not hard to see why. As much as I’ve been impressed with the versatility of the trike, it’s been an ongoing project to achieve the purpose for which it was bought – to go off road. It is designed for this, but again, I need to go and push the limits as I do!

I’m certain 2016 will shape up to be a very interesting year, filled with it’s frustrations and blessings. I’m very much looking forward to delving deep into Scripture yet again, and coming up with insights from a disability perspective.

January 4, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Christmas – the greatest adventure of all time…

Based on: Philippians 2:1-11

Most of us enjoy a good adventure story. Whether it’s ‘Ice Age’, ‘Madagascar’, ‘Despicable Me’, ‘Frozen’, ‘Toy Story’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Lord of the Rings’ or one of many others. There’s something about leaving behind what we know and love, what is familiar to us, to venture off into the wild blue yonder to discover whatever there is to discover. Adventure means going to new places, and being in different circumstances that will need different responses. So adventure stories fill us with excitement and wonder.

When I was growing up, I enjoyed watching the Indianna Jones movies – some of the best adventure stories of all time. It was thrilling to watch Indianna Jones get himself into all kinds of trouble, then to see him get back out of trouble, always with the girl of course. These days, adventure movies aren’t enough for me, and I need to have my own adventures. Last year I went to New Zealand, and it was so exciting some of the most amazing places I’ll ever see. But adventures don’t always go to plan. This year, I went to America. I rented a motorhome, and managed to lock the keys inside. So here was I, on the night before my 40th birthday, on the other side of the planet, in the middle of an American desert, at night, climbing through the side window of a rented motorhome. As I was rolling around on the dinning table, I couldn’t help but wonder, what happened for my life to get to this point? I mean, Indianna Jones never climbed through the window of a rented motorhome. Had I known what I was in for, I might never have gone! Climbing through that window was a long way from my quiet, comfortable life I know in Australia.

We all have our adventures, whether good all bad, and it’s good to remember our adventures. At Christmas, we remember the beginning of the greatest adventure of all time. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the birth of Jesus, his life, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven.

What makes this adventure so great? Remember I said adventure is about leaving behind what we know, and going somewhere else. Well, Jesus left behind what he knew. Jesus left his home in heaven, to be born like one of us. We can’t get our heads around what this means! Jesus had been with his father for eternity! Yet Jesus swapped the majesty of heaven, for the filth of an animal shelter, to be born as a baby. He swapped eternal royalty for being despised on earth, and eventually crucified. Jesus went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Unlike me, Jesus knew exactly what he was in for. But he came anyway. And he came because of you.

Here’s where it becomes really radical. Jesus was completely and utterly sinless. He never did anything wrong, not against God, or anyone else. Yet Jesus swapped his sinlessness for our sinfulness. Everything we have done wrong, absolutely everything with nothing left behind. Jesus sees our sin and says, “I will have that!” Then he took our punishment for the sin we have done by dying on the cross. Instead of us being punished for our sin, Jesus was punished instead so we could be forgiven. This is massive. But it doesn’t end there. Jesus also rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. So now, Jesus says anyone who believes in him can have his sinlessness. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine, for example, giving away your nice new car, or your home? You just wouldn’t do it, would you? If you did, you’d want it to be someone who really deserved it. Well, Jesus gives away his sinlessness to people who don’t deserve it. This is why we can now have forgiveness and eternal life. Jesus left behind eternity to enter a sinful world to take our sinfulness so we can have his sinlessness. Christmas really is the start of the greatest adventure of all time.

But Christmas also the start of our adventure. What am I talking about? Remember I said adventure is about leaving behind what we know, and venturing off into different circumstances that require different responses. Well, by dying for our sins so we can be forgiven, Jesus has enabled us to leave behind the things we know. To leave behind the way we normally do things. We have left behind the world of sin, and we now stand in God’s Kingdom. So now we live with entirely new circumstances. Jesus has placed use in a right relationship with God – for eternity! We are now motivated and encouraged by Jesus, because we want to honour him. We are now comforted by Jesus when things aren’t going our way. We are part of what God is doing in the world through his Spirit. We are now the subject of Jesus’ affection and compassion. And these different circumstances require a different response. Instead of competing with one another and trying to out do each other, we’re to have the same understanding and same love. Rather than thinking that we’re better than others, we’re to have a servant’s attitude, always looking to the interests of others. Not because we should, but because this is precisely what Jesus has done for us. By doing these things we show what Jesus has done for us.

In a very real sense, we as Christians are on the greatest adventure of all time. Greater than any adventure movie. It began with Jesus leaving behind his home in heaven to be born as a baby. It continues with us as we leave behind what we want, and going after what God wants. This is the adventure that should fill us with excitement. This is the adventure that should fill us with wonder. This is the adventure of eternity.

December 16, 2015 Posted by | Bible, Sermons | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Zealand – travelogue entry 4

Well, my time with the world’s angriest sewing machine has come to an end, much to my disappointment and I’m now at home nice and warm. I must admit, though, I did take great delight in laying down on my bed last night without having to assemble it first. Right after having to dismantle the dinning set. Civility is a good thing.

All in all, 18 days and around 3,300km added up to 1 fantastic holiday that ended far too soon. I’ve taken to think of New Zealand as like a box of chocolates – it’s best to leave some for later. Certainly when I’ve had more than my fair share of Kiwi adventure. And all this in a van that looked as though it couldn’t get to the end of a driveway – even if it was down hill!

On my way to Mt. Cook, I did some impromptu bushwalking trying to get into some waterfalls. I was successful for 1 of the 3 walks. Stairs are bad! It turned out to be a good thing that I didn’t hang around. About an hour later, it appeared a weather front had moved in, and it looked very dark from  a distance.

It was a long drive towards Mt. Cook. Especially when I had to come off the go pedal yet again for strong cross winds. I stopped for the night at a tiny town called Omarara where I found a warm welcome at the holiday park. Again, I’m astounded at how little attention Kiwis pay to my disability and just take me as they find me. The woman at the holiday park commented it was good I was getting around on my own. I responded by saying that no one is mad enough to come with me. She laughed with a manner of understanding. I find this very perplexing after visiting the disabled community in New Zealand – and I use that term deliberately, and politically. Listening to people’s experiences outside the disabled community gives the impression that the wider New Zealand community is full is discrimination. I have found that discriminatory attitudes are far less in New Zealand than what they are in Australia. I can only think of 3 explanations for this disconnect: 1) monogamous groups emphasis minor elements outside the group to justify remaining inside the group; 2) the accounts of discrimination I have heard are given within a church context, and if the philosophical presuppositions of pentecostalism are shared among other Christian traditions, this could bare some explanation. It would be interesting to survey the theological landscape of New Zealand some more; or 3) the way I present invariably blows apart any presuppositions of disability people may have, and I don’t cop the same discrimination. That is, I’m on my own, in a rented van, visiting from Australia. Not exactly what you’d expect of a ‘disabled person’. More thinking required.

Me on an Argo - scary!

Me on an Argo – scary!

Mt. Cook was an interesting experience. I went to the Sir Edmund Hillary Museum, and learned about his life. I also learned more about Mt. Cook. I joined an Argo tour in the hope of getting up close to a glacier. An Argo is an 8-wheeled ATV that can also go in the water. (See attached photo. Just when you thought I couldn’t get anymore dangerous, I have the controls! I didn’t get to drive it. It was just a pose). Before I booked, I asked about walking. I was told the track was steep, but the guide would be able to help me up. The woman said nothing about a vertical goat track! The guide was up for the challenge, but 10 steps up the track, I said, “Nah. This isn’t gonna work!” And he helped me back down. Sensing my disappointment, he made sure I got a refund on the basis of wrong information. I don’t think those who know how to get me into difficult places would not have got me up this track. It was a shocker! So, still no glacier…

A snowy evening at Mt. Cook

A snowy evening at Mt. Cook

But Mt. Cook had a special treat for me that night. As I was about to start preparing dinner, it began snowing – proper snow! Not saga snow, not sleet, SNOW! I hadn’t seen snow fall before, so this was special. To think I had thoughts of staying in the hotel instead of camping. I would’ve missed out on this. Staying warm wasn’t a problem. I went to bed with up to 4 layers on, plus my sleeping bag and a duvet over the top. I slept soundly, provided I kept all body parts inside my sleeping bag. The next morning, I woke to find the van covered in snow and ice. A totally awesome experience. To think 36 hours later, I was going to land in Sydney with the temperature in the mid 30s. What a contrast.

The drive out to Akaroa

The drive out to Akaroa

After Mt. Cook, I headed for Akaroa for the night and to have a quick look around. This provided a short drive for the flight out the next day. I got the impression that Akaroa is where the Christchurch yuppies hang out, and is not for the budget conscious traveller. Still, I would like to come back here, and have a good look around. Just not staying in Akaroa.

This has been an awesome, and yes, I’m going to make a big call, this has been my best holiday yet. Yes, I complained allot about the world’s angriest sewing machine, and the driving experience was compromised far more that what I had preferred. But it did provide an excellent camping experience. I put this down to the table being small and light, so it was easy to put up and pull back down. And the cushions for the bed were lighter than what was in the van I had last year. This made things so much easier. Eventually, I did get use to the noise, and driving like a grandpa. In it’s own way, the van added to the adventure. It certainly wouldn’t have been the same without it!

 

November 15, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

New Zealand – travelogue entry 3

Slope Point

Slope Point

I have traveled south til I can go no further – at least not without getting very wet! I have attached a photo of myself at Slope Point – the southern most point of mainland New Zealand. It was a bit of a hike to get there as well. But at least it was over a couple of paddocks, so it was an easy walk. (If the photo appears to be at a strange angle, I had my iPad on the ground, propped up by my backpack to take the shot.) So now I start the long journey back to Christchurch to fly out on Friday. But I’ll be going via Mt. Cook.

Thunder Creek Falls

Thunder Creek Falls

I returned towards Haaste from Wanaka, and the day did not start well. I was on the foreshore at Wanaka in the van on compacted gravel, and saw a good spot to take a photo. Except the gravel there wasn’t as compacted. In actual fact, it was a gravel beach. Fortunately, one of the locals was happier enough to drag me out – on the third attempt. Note to self: this is not a Delica.

After all that wind and rain, New Zealand really turned on the sunshine, and I enjoyed a splendid day of photography. But the day ended as it began, stuck! This time for reasons not my doing. The Haaste Pass is having roadworks done, and at some point in the afternoon the road is closed completely for the night. I didn’t know what the times were, and became stuck on the Haaste side of the range, and spent a second night at Pleasant Flat. I was a bit disappointed. I was hoping to

Haast River

Haast River

spend the night at Cameron Flat. That valley would be spectacular to see in the first and last light of the day.

After further delays due to the road still being closed, it was on to Queenstown. I took a less traversed route from Wanaka that climbed over a range with the road summit at 1081m above sea level. I could just about eyeball the passengers on the planes coming in to land at Queenstown airport. If there was ever a time I wanted my trike, it was then. The road down to the other side was full of sharp elbows and hairpin bends. And I was in one of the worst handling vehicles. Oh the injustice of it all!!! I still had fun.

Crown Range Pass

Crown Range Pass

Queenstown was a buzz with activity, and there was nothing to encourage me to hang around. I camped just out of town and met a couple with the same van. So I took the opportunity to compare notes. Their van wasn’t in much better condition as mine. I think I won ‘my camper rules’ in that department. Although, mine had a working table – what a bonus! I felt much better about my van, and seeing they had come to the same conclusions as me – yes, it’s a bucket of rusty bolts, but it’s doing the job, so enjoy. It’s just how it is with this rental company. The next day, I was even happier when I got my music going. At least I can now add some variety to the monotonous noise of the world’s angriest sewing machine (more widely known as the Toyota Diesel engine).

Lake Te Anua

Lake Te Anua

From Queenstown, it was on to Milford Sound. What a mysterious corner of the world that is! Again, New Zealand really turned on the sunshine, and I enjoyed a full day of bushwalking and photography. I didn’t get to cover the whole area that day, and finally arrived in Milford Sound the next day when New Zealand well and truly had turned off the sunshine, and the snow capped mountains were once again enveloped in cloud and rain. I was very disappointed. I could have pushed on the day before, but I like to call it a day when I’m feeling tired, and make camp for the night. I tend to enjoy things more when I’m not tired. I didn’t envisage the weather hampering my enjoyment. Even still, I was able to appreciate just how unique this place is. I don’t imagine they’d be too many places in the world where you can stand on the edge of the sea, and be immediately surrounded by snow capped mountains in spring.

Eglington Valley

Eglington Valley

By the time I had driven back to Te Anua for my cruise, the sun was back out again in full force. I could only wonder what it was like back at Milford Sound. At 2 hours drive up the road, I wasn’t that interested in finding out. The cruise took me to a glow worm cave on the other side of the lake. This involved a 200m walk into the cave on a raised platforms by guided tour. Walking in I managed to bang my head on some very low overhangs a couple of times. Not recommended. And if anyone is wondering, no, it didn’t knock any sense into me. The cave had a river rushing through it at a rate of 300l/min. It also had a waterfall! The tour went another 50m into the cave by boat. From what I could see in the low light, the boat looked like a big aluminium bath tub. Our guide stood on the side, and dragged the boat along by chains bolted to the cave walls. Not for the faint hearted. It was pitch black. The only light came from the glow worms themselves. It was an awesome experience.

Fiordland National Park

Fiordland National Park

From Te Anua, I’ve spent a few days rounding the south coast, which I must say is a bit boring after Milford Sound and Mount Aspiring National Park. But it was still very scenic. Today ended in a bit of frustration when I tried to get into McLean Falls. It was a very well formed track, but 700m in I came to some steps with no handrail, and I didn’t feel steady enough to take them on. So, disappointed, I turned back. I did get to see some very nice rainforest though.

Humboldt Falls

Humboldt Falls

I’m looking forward to returning to the mountains, and hopefully, I can get up close to a glacier on a guided tour. This really has been a fantastic trip.

November 15, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment