Morning Boating

 

The students are off again! This time on their final adventure— hopping on an airplane back to the States. As another season of inside jokes, kayaking with dolphins, and other “only in New Zealand” adventures come to a close, I find myself reflecting on what made this semester unique. While swimming with dolphins or living in a convent are very rare and extraordinary opportunities, most CCSP students have been able to share those and similar experiences in their time here. They’ve all been able to play a song for our Music and Musings time, stay with a local family for a home stay weekend, and see the wonders of New Zealand from the West Coast to Wellington.

penguin!
An adult Little Blue Penguin

But something new and exciting about this past semester in particular was the amount of time students were able to dedicate towards research hours for Marine Ecology, taught by local professor Jody Weir. Every Wednesday afternoon for the majority of the semester students were either dropped at Point Keen or the Ohau waterfall to count seal pups, staked out at various beaches to scan for dolphins, helped with dedicating the new “Hutton’s Hub” for our local Kaikoura bird, the Hutton’s shearwater, or even helped with collecting data of Little Blue penguin chicks!

And if that doesn’t sound cool enough, between the two weeks of Marine Ecology and Research all seventeen students were able to go out on Jody Weir’s research boat for a morning. What that means is spotting TONS of dolphins, penguins, albatross, seals, and even a whale!
To get an even better idea of what this experience was like, read it from the words of CCSP student Judith Marklin (Houghton ’17) in an excerpt from her research journal:

April 11, 2016
We went out on the research boat today with Jody for KORI (Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute) research. It felt so good to be on the water. Even though it was a clear, sunny day, I still decided to wear the Mustang suit – a full-body, bright orange life vest. I felt intense and awkward at the same time. We went out to Haumuri Bluffs and spotted Dusky dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, albatross, a Hutton’s shearwater, small orange crayfish/crab things… It was incredible to be so close to the wildlife. The two seals were doing synchronized yoga while holding their flippers!
I was scanning the sea from the 6 o’clock position to 9 o’clock when Jody got word of a humpback whale close to shore. Humpbacks are not native to Kaikoura, but rather, are spotted passing through as they migrate. We sped over and waited for it to resurface. The suspense built as I scanned the glassy surface of the water. Suddenly, we heard the blowhole as it resurfaced not ten feet from our boat. Jody cut the engine, and we watched in awe as it slowly came toward us, gliding a foot under the surface. It passed right behind our boat. It was a small, young one – but still incredible. I saw its outline from above, fins outstretched and white spots along it’s back. I couldn’t help but be humbled. Praise the Creator and Sustainer for these glimpses of sacredness.

I can’t help but agree with Judith; at the end of the day, being able to live in a place so beautiful, near an ocean teeming with such a variety of life, there’s nothing left to do but sit in awe and praise of the Creator of such a beautiful creation.

-Lauren Berg
Student Life Coordinator
Creation Care Study Program

The Gardener

It has become a bit of a tradition to have a “celebration night” to conclude a week of God and Nature classes with Dr. Andrew Shepherd. We clear out the tables and chairs from the dining room, and take time to view or listen to or watch student’s creative responses to questions on humanity’s role in creation and the role of the cross and resurrection. All of the videos and songs and art pieces shared blew everyone away with their level of maturity and thoughtful reflections, so we thought we would include at least one of those pieces to give you a taste of the night. Here is Anne Nusbaum’s poem “The Gardner” accompanied by her art piece “The Garden”:

 

Every story worth hearing begins with

Misadventure,

So let it be known that

Ours

Began with a slip and a

Fall,

With the best of

Intentions

And the worst of

Consequences,

And the shattering of the

Harmony

Of the

World.

Misadventure

Thus setting the scene,

The world spins on.

 

The morning stars continue in their

Chorus

Whilst birds soar and

Rest

And wander near and far.

The sun rises and sets, and

The sparrow finds a

Home

And the swallow a nest for her young.

Flowers blossom and whither as

Forests melt into

Gold

And valleys deck themselves in swaths of grain.

The moon keeps faithful watch as

The rivers harmonize and the hills sing for

Joy.

They gird themselves in

Laughter

As the waterfall roars

And the trees clap their hands

And the mountains skip

And the heavens weep while

Tthe sea crashes—

All in a heavenly

Chorus

For their King.

 

Even the stones of the earth will cry out His

Glory,

And deep will call out to deep

As thunder shakes bones

And wind screams in peals of laughter.

Heaven and earth praise Him—

Seas and lands and all that moves within.

All Creation echoes His

Glory,

In whisper

And bellow

And movement

And rest.

Every moment therein is

Saturated with

Song

For Him.

This, I tell you, is

Good.

 

Now add to this

Chorus

The faltering and broken voice of

Man.

At its best, his voice is

Small;

When he tries to sing louder, the

Harmony

Is fractured.

For his voice is the scrape of

Trowel into earth.

It is the near silent drop of

Seed into earth.

It is the gargle and spit of water carried from

Home to home in the earth,

And the quiet ‘pit-pat’ of a

Slow step on the earth.

It is the gentle touch of cool soil on

Hands

And the humble attention of

“Watch as it grows.”

It is companionship and faithfulness and

Hands

Of grace and strength.

Just as garden is not

Garden

Without its roots and bees,

The chorus

Is not whole without the voice of

Man.

Gardener tending the

Garden—

It is very Good.

 

-Anne Nusbaum

Class ’17 Eastern University