I went to Church on Sunday. It’s the first time I have been to Church in at least a year. It was a great service; standing room only. The congregation was a communion of strangers, tourists and photographers, and this is what we witnessed.
First the approach to the Church, known as the Cardboard Cathedral,( under construction). It is on the corner of Madras and Hereford Streets, next to Latimer Square. It was formerly home to St John’s ( Church) which was demolished as a result of the damage it sustained during the February 22nd earthquake in 2011. Please, lift up your eyes to the dry, brown Port Hills in the distance.They are awesome in their stark, summer colour.
The gate was locked so I went round the corner, onto Madras Street, where the old wall ends. Here, there is a good view of the Eastern Elevation/ wall of the new Cathedral. Note my valiantly artistic attempt to align the steeple of the old stone wall with the apex of the new wall Although it is called the Cardboard Cathedral, there is no cardboard in place yet. An adventurous young man, photographing from on top of a higher section of the old wall, kindly agreed to take a photo for me. Here is the helpful stranger’s photo. I am pleased he has captured a small portion of a sample of cardboard tubing.
Then, a little further along the way, I took this photo which is my favourite of the day; mostly because of the stormy clouds in the background. But, also, it reminds me of a Cathedral spire reaching for the heavens.
The view to the Port Hills was more straightforward. If you click on the photo, you may be able to see The Sugar Loaf communications tower which seems, to me, to line up beautifully with the top of the Cathedral’s wall; is this a new, technologically advanced scheme to signal our prayers and wishes more quickly to the appropriate destination?
The white chairs in the distance are a beautiful tribute to the people who died in the earthquakes.
I had a lovely time at Church. It made me feel uplifted, enlightened and spiritually revitalised. I love the site for the new Cardboard Cathedral. It is sacred both from its long history of prayer and worship and from its proximity to the traumas of the February 2011 earthquake. I love its openness; the way it is accessible from all directions; the way it opens out to a view of the Port Hills in one direction and the greenery of Latimer Square in the other. Here is the view towards Latimer Square; imagine how lovely it will be for people to gather on the green after a church service or a community event; lovely, providing it’s a fair weather day, of course. I think I will love the Cardboard Cathedral when it is completed. I already love the fact that the triangular shape connects me to the transitional V-huts made in Hagley Park by the early settlers. And, I know that I absolutely love Shigeru Ban’s sustainable, recyclable, inspiring designs. And I love that this soon to be Cathedral is super, super unlikely to ever hurt me in the event of another earthquake. It will be one building in the city in which I will feel completely safe and secure.
My visit to Church was very short and sweet, but the highlight of my spiritually invigorating morning came when I returned to my car. I had parked nearby and left the motor running so that the air conditioning would keep my ever patient husband cool ( N.B. animals, husbands and small children should not be left for any length of time in a hot car). I noticed, vaguely, that a person (beer can at his side) was deeply asleep under a tree close by. Not too worried, I whizzed off, camera in hand. On my return, the person had arisen and was approaching, and gesticulating wildly at, the car. It turned out that a) he was annoyed that the noise of the car had disturbed his peaceful, hung over Sunday snooze, but b) and, more importantly as far as he was concerned, we were ruining the environment by leaving on the car engine. Oh, my MORTIFICATION and GUILT were instantaneous. No church service is complete without Confession, it would seem. So, I promptly confessed my sins and offered profound and humble apologies. Guilty and double guilty, as charged. My only small and pitiful excuse for such aberrant, and ecologically unsound, behaviour was the heat. The heat; it had to be the Heat.
If you want to know more about the Cardboard Cathedral, Shigeru Ban or V-huts click on the following links which I found very interesting.
As a final note; when I refer to east and west in the post it is in relation to the Eastern and Western Elevations which are referenced to elevations in the old, earthquake damaged Cathedral in the Square. I am not sure of the exact orientation of the new Cathedral site but my inner compass tells me it is North/South-ish. I could be entirely wrong because trying to understand where one is, in much of the city these days, is like walking through a maze blindfolded.