"Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then, it will be a really good day." Louie Schwartzberg
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From Dust to Restart

posted by Susan Dominikovich on , , , , , , , ,

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"A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness."  John Keats

We sold our house exactly one week ago.  We expertly packed everything we hadn’t already sold into a storage container while all essential items went into the Granvia for our Big Adventure. 
Thankfully we spent two days recovering with a friend in her house before we wiped the dust off our feet for the very last time (Matthew 10:14), got on the road and headed south.  Our first stop was Wellington to visit some much-missed friends who had moved away earlier in the year.  Next stop was the Interisland Ferry at 7:30 on a misty Sunday morning.  The ferry journey was pleasant and a good chance to finally stop.  We stopped and sat for three hours, reminiscing, looking forward and enjoying the view.

The ferry docked in Picton and we began the 2 ½ hour drive to Kaikoura.  I could not peel my eyes from the vineyards and the dry golden hills of Marlborough, pointing out things of interest to the children.  With each kilometre our oohs and ahhs and “look at that!” became more frequent and more passionate especially when the crystal water of the Kaikoura Coast came into view.  Each new thing we spied was like a nugget of soul-food.  Upon arriving at our home-away-from-home (except we don’t have one anymore so does that really apply?) my thirteen-year old son exclaimed, “wow, that was the best car trip ever.”

“Because it was so short?”  I asked, since normally it takes at least four hours for us to get anywhere.

“No, because there was so much to look at.  So much that was new.” 

My Mama-heart swelled.  This Mama was grateful and blessed and rested and hope-filled and just plain ol’ happy. 

And fitting too because “so much that is new” could just about be our motto for 2015.  And we all are embracing the fact that “new” means the same as “very very good.” 

Our eldest’s words and the trip south seemed to have set us up for a magical three days in Kaikoura.  It’s always been a place we by-passed enroute to our destination (cue the line from Cars).  This time we planned a recoup.  Recoup and recovery for our family after a move and a pretty crazy year.  Again. 

If there is a Paradise on earth, it is Kaikoura.  I’ve been to some beautiful places and I have been awed and overwhelmed by landscape but never before like I was in Kaikoura.  The colours and the contrast in this amazing place are worth every artist’s attention and every poet’s contemplation.  I am not a poet but I studied the Romantics back in university and I understood exactly how Keats and Shelley must have felt, hiking in the mountains, inspired by nature to put pen to paper what they felt and saw.  As we walked along the cliffs above the sea amongst golden grass, purple lupines, white cliffs, rugged reefs, green flax and the blue blue blue of the Pacific, I cried.

I actually cried from the beauty of it, with a permanent joyous smile under the tears. Not just tears in my eyes, but tears welling up and overflowing while I furiously blinked and wiped not because I was embarrassed by the tears but because they blocked my view and all I wanted to do was to see.  Just to see.

To see and to absorb and to feel and to hope.

I did not want to leave and since we are homeless anyway, the thought crossed my mind that we could make this our home.

But we did have to leave because our next stop was Christchurch for a family Christmas with the Kiwi grandparents and cousins from Canada.  Yes, there is another Susan Dominikovich from Canada married into this Kiwi family but that is another story altogether.

Christchurch is about family but it is also about memories since this is the city in which my husband was born, broke his leg, grew up, went to school, studied, made friends, lost friends, drank for the first time, went out with his first girlfriend, and played cricket.

The city in which he lived for twenty-two years.

The city that will never be the same again.

Today our family walked through the city centre of Christchurch, the area worst hit by the devastating earthquake of 2011 which brought tall buildings to the ground and took the lives of 185 people.  Nearly four years later and the area still resembles a war-zone.

We wandered through deserted streets of condemned buildings and rubble.

We sat in the Square and stared at what remains of Christchurch Cathedral.  This time it was my husband who wiped away tears but for very different reasons.  Sites cordoned off and nature reclaiming what once was man’s domain is difficult to fathom.  My heart sank at the brokenness of the Arts Centre, one of my favourite places and where Paul bought for me my koru, new beginnings, nearly twenty years ago.  The words, “just bricks and mortar” came to mind, but still, there once was beauty in those bricks and mortar.  And we stared dumb-struck at ami Stadium, deserted, the field over-run by weeds, the Hadlee Stand gone. Silent with just a whisper of wind reminding us of the glory days of its past.  Long gone.

And then we came across a spark of energy in the middle of the devastation.  A hive of activity, buskers, shoppers and coffee-drinkers.  Mothers hanging on to the sweaty hands of their children while they line up for a sausage roll or sushi, girls in short skirts comparing the contents of their shopping bags, and young couples in white shirts and sunglasses laughing together over their lattes.  The shops and businesses on Cashel Mall have been revived and rebuilt in bright containers, bringing vibrancy and colour into the concrete wasteland which was once the business centre.  It is now called Re:Start Mall.


I get that.

I so get that.

A city ravaged and destroyed by an earthquake and a people determined to import what beauty they can into the rubble and the ugly.


When we get back to Taranaki and settle into our new home, it will be a Restart for us too.  A restart because we will never be able to look at the small town we lived in with the same naïve beauty-seeing eyes again.  A restart because we do not want to waste one more second in the dust when there is so much beauty around the corner.

We wiped the dust off our feet.


So much that is new.

Well done Christchurch.  You are not sitting in the rubble, pining for what was lost.  You have moved on.  You have created something new, something wild, something ingenious.
Something beautiful.

And so will we.

We can restart together.

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