Dear Mr. God

Kia ora tatou:canterbury_christchurch_santa-parade-2007_zg9e9148_20071202__093.jpg

It is that time of the year again ( isn’t it always?).With Christmas on us, the insane rush to shut New Zealand for a few days will see people buying as if the shops will be shut forever, and tradesmen working 28-hour days to complete work for clients ( you want it when?).

Things I do badly (the list is extensive) include remembering birthdays and writing Xmas cards. My apologies in advance.

I have however written this small piece, my way of thanking you all for your warmth, friendship and support over the year.

It is deeply appreciated.

May Christmas bring you all joy, peace and tranquillity.

Arohanui e hoa

Dear Mr God:

It has been a huge year, a busy year, a wild rollercoaster of a year I have clung to as best I could, but I just wanted to pause, to take a little time to write to you (I know, I don’t do it enough).As Christmas approaches and society prepares to shut its doors for a few days, there are a few things I need to say, to thank you for.

I realise now that Christmas is not one day in the year, it is every day and everyday, that for the last year you have given me gifts, have put presents under the tree of my life. Sometimes those gifts haven’t been ones I would have asked for, but you gave me them nevertheless. I unwrapped them and was ungrateful at first. It took me time to realise that they were valuable and to be valued. They were lessons I needed to learn.

I realise now that the greatest gifts do not have carefully-removed price tags, that they are always there, waiting to be opened if I have the wit to see them: the whisper of birds’ wings as they pass in the night, watching as the sun paints a dawn across the ocean, seeing curtains of silver rain drifting past my window and suddenly becoming aware of spring exploding on the bare branches of the silk tree in my garden. These are among the greatest gifts you could have given me. Being able to take the time to wonder at the beauty of the natural world, and learning to take that time, are surely two of the greatest gifts you could have given me.

I realise now that my friends and family, the people I love, are gifts to celebrate. Some have moved on, some have died, but I rejoice in the time I had with them. The photographs of their life are Christmas cards I can open again and again. New friends have come into my life and I looking forward to having time with them, with getting to know them. And sharing the lives of my family (You know it is a big family, for it includes my friends) is a gift I get to unwrap every day.

Of course the greatest gift you could have given me is my life. It took a while to work this out. It takes time to grow into a life, to break it in before it feels comfortable. But I am mostly there now. I have learned that the quality of a life lies in chewing it slowly, celebrating every moment of every day. I have learned that if I worry too much about tomorrow, I will miss all the wonders in the day before me. I am still opening my presents.

You know, the funny thing is watching the desperate rush to Christmas. It is as if everything will end on December 25. Actually everything is about to begin. Ends are beginnings; the subtext of Christmas.

So, as your spirit blows through the sails of my life, as the moonlight sends silver ripples across the sea on which I travel, may I remember the greatest gift of all; that it is the journey which matters, not the destination.

With affection and grudging respect

Your prodigal son.

17 Responses

  1. GSP@GP says:

    To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.

    Love and pixels
    (with thanks to RLS)

  2. virginia gray says:

    Tony, thank you for an entertaining and informative year – I have learned heaps and so enjoyed the artistic erudite journeys which you provide and elicit – if that is the right word here.
    Merry Christmas and a profitable New Year to both you and Linda. May you salute 2008 with a top quality Shiraz!

  3. Bikerchris says:

    Tony, and Linda;

    Birthday remembering, Christmas Cards, and anniversaries are not that high on my (remembering) list either. However, Thank You Tony, for a truly inspirational year. Your Wedderburn workshop was just fantastic, and your blog was entertaining, informative, and just a plain, ordinary, damned good read.

    Merry Christmas, relax and recharge those batteries for 2008 – God knows, it will be busy!! May Santa present you with a good Lagavulin 16 year old!

    Best Wishes,

  4. bb says:

    Tony, I heard a wonderful quote the other day – “… Walking on the wings of the wind …” and Ann B tells me it is from Psalm 104. And for a spritual but not really religious person, I think it is wonderful. You might enjoy it too – as that is a bit of what you do I think.

    And Virginia, What about a top quality Pinot?

    have a great Christmas everyone

  5. petal says:

    Thankyou Tony, again for the encouragement dished out several times this year. I too know what being seriously out of one’s comfort zone means…I have also realised this year that you are never too old to do something crazy like leaving “home” to settle in a very beautiful, but climatewise harsh place. I feel more confident in my capabilities,and I think my photography has shown this.I also hope you and Linda have a happy and relaxing time over the holiday period.Take care….

  6. Tony Bridge says:

    Many thanks to you all, Alan, Virginia,bb and petal. Chris, I towuld be nice to have a 16-year old Lagavulin, and an Ardbeg would be great as well!
    Arohanui e hoa

  7. GSP@GP says:

    Ah Tony, my dear boy, when you are in the beautiful hollow by the broad bay, we shall share, or should I say, we shall “towuld” (sic) a Laphroaig or two.
    Sorry that I don’t have Lagavulin or Ardbeg (mouthwash)

  8. garry says:

    a question… if approx 50% of our society class themselves as christians why do nearly 100% celebrate christmas?

  9. The PRFH says:

    My Dear Tony,

    Thank you for the kind words you wrote about me in your electronic newsletter, although I would not, myself, describe my occasional participation in your weblog as “chipping in”. It is an expression which, in my opinion, lacks dignity. However, I am, as you know, always willing to assist you in matters of spelling, grammar and syntax. (Nota bene: while to the ear it may sound the same, the latter should not be confused with the monies the IRD [Infernal Revenue Department] collects through PAYT [Pay As You Transgress]).

    Here in Hell we do not celebrate the Season of Peace on Earth Goodwill to All Men – quite the opposite, in fact. Nevertheless, even a devilish Proofreader can, on occasion, be subversive. So may I surreptitiously wish you the joys of ******mas[1] and the greatest happiness in the New Year.

    Your fiend,

    Dia Bolical
    (The Proofreader from Hell)

    [1] In this Region, even a surreptitiously subversive Proofreader is incapable of breaking the ban on the use of the word which has been, as they say, “bleeped-out” (although you will note that the substitution of stars, one of which plays such a prominent part in the ******mas Story, has so far escaped censure).

  10. ssg says:

    Dear Tony,

    Thank you for you kind words and Christmas wishes. Christmas in the New World – it comes as a shopping bonanza and a hype; in the Old One – it is mostly a joyful and spiritual time that is most likely to come out of a bottle; and I would think for many around us, it is just a special time of hope for a nicer days to come.

    A comment on proper way – in whatever: “As for the proper way: it is the beginning of disorder.” Lau Tzu

    Heartfelt thanks to you, for letting me in your world of Photography.

    Vesela Koleda e Chestita Nova Godina!

    C Blagopojelanina, Стоян

  11. Tony Bridge says:

    while my Bulgarian isn’t, I think I can work this out…
    Many thanks indeed.

  12. AlistairM says:

    A wise man said that a man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work and this too is from the hand of God for without him, who can eat and find enjoymentt?

    Having passed the 50th milestone I appreciate all the more your sentiments of enjoying the small things and counting your blessings! Thank you for inspiration your website has been – among other things to splash out for a camera and the challenge to capture the upspoilt beauty of the world. Maybe the only gift I might hope for is a place in one of your workshops.

    May your Christmas bring you peace and moments of delight from the unexpected quarter.

  13. Peregrina says:

    I wih you and Linda much joy at Christmas, Tony, and the happiest of times in the year ahead. Thanks for your blog. I always enjoy it.



  14. Gail says:

    Your “Dear Mr God” has touched me Tony – you finally see the big picture – hallelujeh!!! There have always been many gifts under the tree of your life – may you now enjoy them all for a very long time.

  15. Tony Bridge says:

    Many thanks for your kind comments, Gail.

  16. virginia gray says:

    Fancy that! Pinot Noir must take a back seat to Laphroig! I did not know you were a single malt man. We live and learn. Lang my your lum reek for auld lang and all of that for the New Year. Please we want more pearls from you. Looking forward.

  17. […] Zealand photographer and writer Tony Bridge tells us what he’s grateful for (scroll WAY down the page – this link works better in Explorer)

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