Posts Tagged ‘totara’

I Wonder

My friend and mentor Andrew Norton passed away last week aged 61 years.

Andrew was a preacher, priest, prophet, photographer and poet, who embraced life, faith, family, friends and work with keen perception and vigorous passion.

He leaves us all with an amazing legacy. No word, not even poetry can describe how thankful I was to have him in my life and how much I will miss him.

I had one last coffee with him in Auckland in April this year.  We had been meaning to catch up for sometime, and I am so glad we met this one last time.  I remember my conversation with Andrew – his intense listening, his comfort with long silences, and how he always answered my questions with more questions.  He thanked me for making the effort to catch up and how my perseverance had meant we were able to meet one last time.  He told me how he had paused recently to take a photo of a magnolia flower and then just spent some time noticing the design of the magnolia.


Last Friday I attended the celebration of his life. His family described his passing in a way that was so unique to his life and calling:

Our mighty Totara has today fallen into the arms of the Great I Am

The Totara is a native NZ tree, and my friend Andrew was as mighty and present as a great tree.

While Andrew was suffering with cancer he wrote a short book on his reflection on the grace and gift of dying. His family gave us each a copy of the book – Turn to Wonder, as his final gift to us. 

Arohanui and farewell, for now, Andrew – my friend and mentor.

In response to his well lived life I wrote this poem for him:

I Wonder

When the weight
Of the world
Fills too much of my head
I turn to Wonder

When my head is
Too full of worries
Doubled by fear
I turn to Wonder

When my friend I
Had our last coffee with
Is no longer with us
I turn to Wonder

For in Wonder I see
A new Heaven and Earth
That empties my worries
And fears of the future

For in Wonder I will
See my friend again
And we will trade answers
To his great questions

Of life and death
Of loss and gain
Of solemnity and grace
Of Awe and Wonder

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