familiarity breeds content

After an extended summer break in the South Island it is time to get stuck into another year.

When on holiday I love exploring new places. This holiday was no exception. We walked the Abel Tasman Track. Seeing is believing! Bark Bay and Te Puketea Bay will be part of the family vernacular forever. We made our first visit to Golden Bay with Wharariki Beach and Harwood's Hole atop Takaka Hill grabbing our imaginations. We cycled the Central Otago Rail Trail just managing to stay upright amidst the distractions of Poolburn and the Ida Valley and the Taieri River ... and we will be back to do them all again.

But what surprised me most was just how much it was the familiar that bred contentment.

We've lived in Southland. I still find that I support Otago/Southland sports teams. So much in the South is so familiar. Be it traveling over the Lindis Pass from the north OR racing up the side of Lake Pukaki to see the Cookie Monster up close and personal OR tasting everything in the Barker's store in Geraldine OR soaking up that view of the Wakatipu Basin from Coronet Peak OR swimming at St Bathans OR taking those bracing walks up to the glacial faces known as Fox and Franz Josef in shorts and jandals surrounded by tourists dressed to the hilt OR (on the way home) sleeping in the bay window of a 'fisherman's cabin' overlooking Lake Waikaremoana... I could never tire of experiencing any of these.

And yet in life and mission today it is 'the new' which receives so much focus. The pressure to be innovative. The need to be entrepreneurial. While I have no problem with this, I do wonder if we can lose sight of the value of the familiar. Building traditions. Making memories. Returning to sites. Favourite songs. Cherished texts. Valued friends. These breathe a peace and a joy and a contentment into our lives in a way that the 'the new' never can...

Let's pause before we treat the familiar with contempt.

nice chatting - again!



stu mcgregor said…
i completely agree, though i see one of the hurdles to this is that the younger don't know the older stuff to be able to recall it. while we keep segregating our generations according to style, the beauty of what you are describing is going to be lost.

'tis sad indeed.
Alex Huggett said…
Stop it, you're making me hungry
Andrew Butcher said…
Hi Paul - and welcome back!
I'm struck that for Paul, writing to the Corinthians for example, it was finding meaning in the old and archaic that was important when defending the good 'new's of Christ. Unfamiliarity there bred curiosity and maybe contempt.
For my part I love flicking through the pages of my tired, green Baptist Hymn Book (BHB) - there's great words and fine theology in them hymns, but for me it also reminds me of my Baptist upbringing. These hymns are part of my story: our family singing them in four-part harmony from our pews at Tawa Baptist. It's not just nostalgia; it's also celebration of my goodly heritage. 'Familiar' I suspect shares its heritage with the word 'family': some quirky parts, some 'family' jokes and tales, some highs, some lows, and some parts that have been around for so long we can't remember never having or doing them. Yeah, that's contentment.
Paul Windsor said…
I'd agree Andrew. Celebrating and living within the familiar does create family in my experience too.

I wonder if the familiar is necessarily tied to the 'older', Stu? Can a valued sense of the familiar build up over a few weeks or even a few years?

I agree that the segregation of generations is very sad. Every twenty-something should make an octagenarian friend. In fact just last night we watched "Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont". That would be a good place to start. Every youth/young adults group in the country sits down, watches it together ... and then develops a strategy to 'go and do likewise'! As in the movie I think the initiative will need to come from the younger, rather than the older.

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