I am home from our company's professional development days in Auckland. We had a presentation from an adult learning company who is helping us revamp our training courses and training approach yesterday, which was good, followed by dinner at the Viaduct. Dinner didn't start until about 8pm, which was pretty rough on my very primitive digestive system! We usually eat around 6pm at home because of our small person, who goes to bed about 7.30. It didn't help that I'd been up since 5am because of having to connect with the 7am flight to Auckland. A colleague and I abandoned the dinner straight after the main course at about 9.30ish and went back to the hotel to get some peace and quiet - apparently a number of the others did likewise but there were quite a few getting rather hilarious until very late.
This morning was excellent: our MD was talking about contractor management and safety by design in procurement, which is a big project he and another director have been working on, and an area of major interest of mine. He was superb (as usual) and it generated a lot of good, constructive discussion - unlike this afternoon, which was unstructured and got a bit more messy. By afternoon tea, I was losing the will to live, or at least to stay in the discussion....
One highlight for me was our location - we were at the Skycity Convention Centre right in the heart of Auckland CBD, which is right around the corner from the beautiful St Matthew's-in-the-City Anglican Church on Wellesley St. St Matthew's is a church I've been wanting to get inside for years - it's a gorgeous neo-Gothic pile in the heart of Auckland and I've wanted to explore it. Today I took my chance. We only had half an hour for lunch so I grabbed a very quick bite and headed over the road to look around. I was struck by its peace: it is on the corner of two of Auckland's busiest streets (Wellesley and Hobson) but it's nearly completely silent inside, with only the sound of very soft organ music playing.
It is a soaring, beautiful building with heaps of very nice stained glass from varying periods, including two more recent compositions I recognise as being done by the same glass artist who did a number of the windows at Wellington Cathedral. The Erebus window was beautiful and very poignant, all in shades of grey and silver and blood-red. I'd never seen anything like it in glass art. I found it particularly moving because I have met a number of people who worked on victim recovery after the Erebus disaster, and the report on the Perpignan Air NZ crash (which happened on the anniversary of Erebus) was released last week.
The font was also very nice: luminous semi-transparent marble lightly veined with gold, with a design of carved leaves wrapping around the top. I also noticed they had put a large glass bowl inside the marble font, which will make filling it (and more importantly, emptying it!) much easier for the sacristans! I also loved the soaring pillars of creamy stone (not sure exactly what kind of stone it was) and the lovely wooden roof - hard to tell, but looked like a hammerbeam roof. Lighting was subtle, picking up the pillars, windows, and the high altar (also marble, but it looks as though there is a simpler wooden altar used). I spent some time wandering around, absorbing the atmosphere, praying and centring myself again (good thing I did or I would have completely blown apart in the afternoon session!).