Class of 2013

As my time as a University student comes to a close, I bid farewell to my fellow students at Unitec, and to the students who will be leaving St Cuthberts College today for the last time.  It has been the most incredibly rewarding experience for me to engage wtih today’s youth.  My faith in humanity has been mightily restored, as I have seen the possibilities that lie in our future generations.

So today, I would like to wish you all the most magical futures.  It has been a pleasure and an honour to get to know so many of you over the last 3 years.  You all give me so much hope for the future.  And even though there will be quite a few less rules now – promise me that any you do come across – you will never stop challenging them!!  Question everything.  Demand an explanation, and if the one you get doesn’t sit well with you – you go right ahead and forge a new way.  Your way.

We, the quiet, compliant, lethargic generation before you, became mesmorised by shiny things.  We settled so deeply into the beams of televised drama and fabricated news – that we lost our passion for truth.  Please don’t follow us into such oblivion.  Shine.  And then shine even brighter again.  People will underestimate you every day.  Never allow their shortsightedness to blind you to your own magnificence.
Around you, people are waking up.  You will recognise the fire in their eyes – because it matches your own.  Dance with them and never let your own fires be extinguished.  Nor should you allow adulthood to demand that you relinquish that righteous call for justice that you have been heralding throughout your youth.  You are right young ones – things are crazy out here – so please feel free to push forward and fix as much of it as you wish.  We need you to.

I’m trusting that your souls are not for sale, and that you will not be bribed by consumer toys, quite as easily as we were.  Never be tricked into believing any other item is more precious than your freedom.

And I pray that you will never become complacent.  This earth is very fragile.  Save her – and she will offer you all the bounty you will ever need.

I wish you all every conceivable joy.  I am enriched by the friendships I have gained with many of you, and I look forward to those continuing ‘beyond school’.  I cannot wait to see what unfolds for each of you.  If ever the world should get you down – there will always be a hand available here to lift you back up.  I can promise you, even on the darkest night, the sun is shining somewhere – and I will help you find it if you ever get lost.

So to close, well – it goes without saying, but I will say it anyway – if you are ever really confused, and aren’t sure what the right thing to do is – just remember the one and only action that will always be the right one : BE KIND.


18 years ago, I was asked by a close friend to do a reading at her wedding.  Having no clue about marriage, or why anyone would choose to do it, I stumbled through a few published works to find something appropriate, but just nothing rang true for me. So I poured a wine, and sat on the back steps one afternoon, and thought – if I was ever going to get married, why would I?  What did I ‘believe’ it meant?  How did I think it could possibly work?  And I wrote them this.  It turns out that 18 years later, I still pretty much believe the same things.


In the beginning God created man, but he soon saw the richness and wonder of his creation was too great to be contained in a single being.  So he took a rib and created woman.  He then took the portion of individual characteristics he need to balance this pair, and distributed them evenly between them.

Later, he realised that before they could truly love the virtues and flaws in the other, they had to lean to live with those inside themselves.  So he sent them separately to earth – to grow and understand their oneness, and only then could they find and appreciate each other and become whole.

He then decreed there must be respect for the individuality of each other – for this is why he did not make you the same.  You are richer because of the differences, not in spite of them.

He then created happy days, for you to delight in the glory of your togetherness – and gave you laughter, to share with each other; and with those who are drawn to you in friendship, because we are warmed by your love.

Then, to keep the balances he so carefully observed from the start, he created difficult days, for you to find strength in each other – and he gave you voices, to talk things through, because the answers and truth lie only within yourselves and must be drawn from one another, with gentleness and care.

As you stand here on your wedding day, promise and remember always to encourage each other forward.  For where one achieves, so the other revels in success.  Be there no secrets, and no lies, for these are rocks that you hide behind alone, where your partner can never find you – and eventually you will be lost.  Support each other through all adversity and there can be no mountains high enough to defeat you.

Build you lives on kindness, trust, love and understanding and you will grow to the full potential of all you have been created and joined for.

God smiles today at the union of this bride and groom, for two of his children have witnessed the light that shines between them.  They believe in the solidarity of marriage, and have said “we are not afraid”.  They have seen the reflection of themselves in each other and know the promise the years ahead hold for them.

Today, each has taken the other ones heart, and placed it safely inside their own, and they have become one.


© Michele Harrod, 1995

How Old Are You?

Image“How old are you?” you ask.

To which I can only reply, “I am eternal, therefore I do not understand your question.

I am a teenage girl, a wise old man.  A three year old boy, a middle aged woman.  A warrior, an ancient soul.  A fresh and new spark of light.

I am everyman.  I am one.  I am all.

I am you.

How old are we?  We are eternal, therefore we should stop worrying ourselves with this foolish question.”

A Body of Water (Short Story)

We stood at the stern of the boat, my living friend and I, and looked toward the rolling hills far on the other side of the lake.  It was hard for her.  She had accompanied me here, not really comprehending the depth of my grief.  A brave journey.  A true friend. 

For I was still in the abyss of loss.  Adrift in a valley that I had free fallen into the night the call came to tell me that they had been killed.  An endless crevasse that seemed to have no bottom for me to hit so I could literally shatter into the thousands of broken pieces that seemed to be all that remained of me.  I had no substance now.  I was neither dead nor alive, but a hollow shell adrift on the water in search of peace.

As I looked down into the icy grey depths of the water, I knew she could never understand my desire to fall forward.  To sink into the chilling endless mass – in the hope that it would freeze the agonies that ripped through my mind and body.  I believed I owned this body of water.  It had come from my own tears and flowed down and filled this valley.  Now it wished to return, back up through my nostrils, into my ears and eyes and down my throat.  To suffocate the scream that will surely come and that I am afraid will never end.  To stop the noise, and then to carry me, down, down, down.  To silence.  To sleep.  Where I can at last awaken and be reunited with those I have been forced to farewell.  “Take me with you,” I screamed in my head, “wait for me and take me too!” 

A cold wind rushed across the water and we both nestled further into our woollen coats.   The cold of course, didn’t bother me at all.  I was beyond the physical.  I could feel no more.   I faked a small, sad smile and suggested a hot cup of tea.  As she headed for the galley I knew my time had come.  I had a moment’s hesitation, a thought for her and how badly she would feel, but the call from deep beneath the boat, from them, was too loud to ignore.  I simply fell forward and lunged for their embracing arms.  ImageDown, down I swam with the coldness constricting my lungs, my heart.  Forcing life out from every pore of my skin.  “I’m here,” I cried, so desperate to see them and hold them again that fear could not grasp me.

I sank deeper and slowly a numbness enveloped me and gave me solace.  My friends swam ahead, playfully, naked and knowing nothing of the cold.  I swam to them and felt their arms surround me.  I knew they would be here. The days had been so dark and lonely without them.  A haze had covered the sun and reduced the power of light.  Everything was bleaker.  Her rays no longer warmed me, but mocked my very existence.  It was no life at all, for I could not bear to be there without them by my side. 

I heard a “hush”, not through my ears, but my heart.  “We are everywhere” they sang, “playing and laughing and free, and we always will be.  But it is not your time to join us yet.  You have to go back – there are stories we want you to tell us, tales from a life that has yet to be lived.  And we live it with you, every day.  There is still so much for us to see through your eyes.”  I wanted to weep, for I could not endure saying goodbye again. 

“But you’ve never had to.  For we are right here.  You have only to say goodbye to who you were before we left, for we took her with us to keep us warm”.  They smiled at me, and a feeling like love exploded in my head and I closed my eyes and simply sank into their longed for embraces.

I awoke to more suffocating.  Something choking me.  I lunged forward and spewed a column of water directly onto a pair of booted feet.  I realised that I was on the shore.  Medics surrounded me, and they had been calling my name.  I ached in every place imaginable, but none so much as the place where my heart should be. 

I felt a hand grab the back of my coat.  Firm and sure.  My head lifted involuntarily and my eyes again focused on the distant hills.  “We have more of those to climb together here first,” my friend whispered.  “You have been sent back here for me.”  I fell into her arms and offered more liquid to the already enormous lake.  And she held me until all the tears ran dry.

I have said farewell to the woman I was before that phone call.  I have grieved for the loss of innocence.  Mourned the loss of faith that all is well in the world and that I, and those I love, are safe.  For we are not.  Tragedy lurks in many a corner, but often he has the courtesy to wait, so one more day of joy can be had first.  I now live those days and fall to bed victorious that I have been given another reprieve. 

Slowly the haze has lifted and the sun again warms my skin, making her liquid journey through my veins and I sense that I am truly alive.  Changed, but alive.  And I have obligations to fulfill – for I feel eyes upon me, from those who have gone before.  To embrace and know the things that surround me, so I can share it all with them.  I no longer stop and think, “they would have loved this”.  Instead I laugh, and know that they do.  I now walk in both worlds.  Climbing mountains with my living friends, and frolicking in the pristine clear waters that time has turned from salt filled tears, to the warm pools of perfect memory.

©Michele Harrod, 2002 (Picture 2012)

I wish I could paint you a landscape

ImageThis is a letter/poem that I wrote to a dear friend many years ago, when I heard that she had lost her husband.  I was overcome with such huge compassion and all I wanted to do was erase her pain.  Sadly, this was the best I could offer……..

My dear friend,

I wish I could paint you a landscape, in which you could glimpse the promise of a new day.  Where you will awaken not to grief, but with the hint of a smile, in anticipation of a small, but significant joy.

If I could only construct you some wings, that I could bind around your shoulders, and they would life you high up, above the weight of your sadness.  And you could soar, even for just one day.  Free from the pain that I know holds you so firmly in its unrelenting grasp.

Surely I can concoct you a potion, a magical, miraculous brew.  That can meld back together the pieces of your broken heart, so that the edges no longer stab you when you least expect it.  And peace could settle in and be wholly yours.

I dreamed I could whisper on the wind, a secret melody that would float through your window and lull you into a deep and restful sleep.  Where hurt was healed and your weary soul remembered the possibilities that await you with each new dawn.

If I could capture some rays from the midday sun, and hold them over your, until the chill of your sorrow is gone, and tiny seeds burst forth, with the first buds of hope.  I would linger until a meadow of happiness had grown all around you.

However, my landscapes lack depth, and the gravity of truth is stronger than the pull of my imaginary wings.  But whilst the only magic I have is the miracle of friendship – this I do send on the wind to you, each and every day.  And although the secrets of ensnaring the sun at noon continue to elude me, I can simply wish for you, a rainbow.

And until the day that wishes come true, and you look up and see those bands of colour stretched across your sky, remember that you are not alone.  I cannot fix the things that are broken, and no matter how hard I search, I still cannot find a way to settle the turbulence of the seas you have been cast adrift on.

But I will reach out my hand to help pull you into shore if ever you feel you are sinking.  And although I am small, know that I am strong enough to help you carry your burden any time the load becomes too heavy for one.

How I wish I could paint you a landscape.  But all I can do is offer you a haven here in my world, any time the grey skies threaten to overwhelm you in yours.  I am here for you.

Your friend, Michele

© Michele Harrod, 1999 (Photo, 2010)

A Road Map for Grief

I have recently being going through old files, and have come across some writing that I did during a very difficult time in my life.  Eleven years ago, 2 people very dear to me, were murdered in their home.  It was a violent and horrific crime.  This event shook my world to it’s very core, challenging everything I believed in – truth, justice, fairness, my naive view that ‘good things happened to good people’ – and not the other way around. My entire belief system was shattered the moment I got this terrible news.

And it had an immense physical impact on me too.  Several months later, I began to get very ill.  No one could explain it, doctors kept throwing me out of hospital, until finally, almost a year later, an artery in my heart proved to be blocked and my heart was literally dying.  To this day, I know it was simply broken.  Thanks to a great GP and a humbled heart surgeon, I now have a stent, and today my heart is sturdy and formidable.

Back at this time however, I had the misfortune of seeing someone who was particularly impatient with my being ill, and generally frustrated with the immense sadness I would feel about my friends.  I wrote this for him.  I am very proud of these words, and I would like to share them for anyone else who is grieving, to remind you too, that there is no time frame for grief.  It’s not a 2 week affliction, or a 2 year disease.  Not a limited sentence that must be served.  Let no-one tell you otherwise.  What I realised, reading this now, 10 years later – that I was right – grieving is in fact a road map – for the journey YOU alone take, towards your new future.  I hope it helps you any time your heart is burdened…..

“You tell me that I live too much in the past.  Perhaps of late, you are right.

But don’t you dare tell me how to grieve.

You can never know how much, or exactly what it is I grieve for.  Not just the loss of my loved ones.  But also the loss of myself.  The very part of me that they loved most. I cannot even BE who they loved me for being.  John’s very own words to me, which I can show you, here, written in a letter, were “you will never know how much I admire your zest for life”.  Oh, I had so much of it!  Yet that very zest was stolen from me, by the very people who stole them.  The ‘zest’ was cut from me as surely and cleaning as they cut off their heads. So do not tell me how to grieve, or how to ‘move on’.  I do not know how to lay them to rest.  I cannot forgive yet.  So I examine was to build zest around that blackness.

And nearly one year later, when they find my own heart is literally ‘broken’, forgive me if I ponder the likelihood that it is bitterness that has built up the blockage.  Perhaps the mortal blow of hearing of their deaths literally did cause the artery to collapse.  And as only anguish and rage and horror were present from then on, is it really so curious why a toxic mess stands in the way of my life flow?

Medical science has discovered this damage, and repaired the break.  I am just learning to accept that it is not yet time for me to see my friends again.  My life will go on without them.  I want that to be a life they will love.  A life that will honour them.  One that is zestful and filled with generosity, kindness and love.  Just like theirs was.

But I will still mourn them.  I will shed some happy tears and some sad tears when I remember them, for their loss will always be too huge to parcel up as a ‘fact of life’, or something to ‘move on from’.  I believe there will never be anything positive to take from their deaths either.  Nothing ‘good’ could ever come from such evil.  So don’t ask me to look for silver linings in the clouds right now.

You can never know the impact that John had on me as a young child, or the extent that I adored him.

I am sorry if you have not loved in such a way.

I am glad you have not suffered such insufferable loss and pain.

I do not ask you to share mine.  Just never try to minimise it, or to ever treat it like on over-worn jumper that should be put in the rag bag as it is now out of fashion, or becoming shabby.

The past is sometimes packages of inconceivable joy.  Other parts simply a collection of wounds.  Some day they stop weeping, but always, scars remain.  Some are discrete and hidden, others are emblazoned across the face for all the world to see.  Eventually they fade, and we learn to cover them, with laughter, or make-up, whatever works.  But the bearing of them, whether visible or not, fundamentally changes who we are.

Grieving is not ‘living in the past’.  Grieving is part of learning to create a new future.  Never judge me for the speed (or lack of) at which I undertake that process.  The gift of this grieving is that it may, someday, allow me to find an equal enormity in the power of loving.  This is how I will honour them.  This is how I will begin to create that new future.  For me.  Left here, without them.”

© Michele Harrod  (written in 2002)


His dark hair is tousled and unkempt.  There is no vanity is him – he has little interest in his own appearance.  It is the shining of the rising sun, the colours of the sunset, the stories etched into the faces of others – these are the sights that warrant his attention. 

His warm brown eyes induce a tenderness in me, till now unknown.  Their warmth emanates from a thousand years of wisdom.  Yet sparkle with a crackling humour that undoes me as the crinkles appear the moment he smiles. 

My feelings for this man are immense and sure.  They are of respect and admiration.  Trust and devotion.  Safety and freedom.  This is an abiding love.  My soul’s search – finally satisfied.  This is a man who needs not a single thing from me, yet willingly accepts all my heart has to offer.  Demanding no more – and never keeping score by withholding his own affections.  His voice soothes my mind, whilst his hands alternatively induce a fever, then calm a storm.  His breath is my very own life-force.  And the circle that is created when he holds out his arms – is my only home.


“My life is a work of art – and whilst it is only I who hold the brush, and hence, bear full responsibility for the landscape I create for myself – I give thanks to everyone who contributes so much colour to my world!”

Michele Harrod

Your Absence

To say that I miss you is akin to referring to a hurricane as a ‘slight breeze’, an earthquake ‘a mere shudder’, a tsunami ‘a bit of a splash’.

Your absence has rendered my insides hollowed out.  As though my organs have been ripped from my core by vicious hands.  My lungs are squeezed in a vice, and I can barely draw air.

How is it possible that a heart so tormented continues to beat?  That this life force persists on pounding through these crumbling veins?  There is not a cell in my body that does not scream in denial of your leaving.

I claw the air – in the vain hope of capturing your essence.  Your scent.  Your spirit.  Or ripping out the eyes of Fate.

I crave the weight of your body on mine.  Your arm across my shoulder.  Your head in my lap.  And I die, piece by tiny piece.  As the knowledge of your irreversible departure seeps into my brain.  Like acid.  Burning this unacceptable truth into a soul that has no power to extinguish the pain. 

Your absence has become this ugly monstrous thing that sits in the room with me.  Mocking me.  I begin to whisper, begging you to return.  For surely this cannot be true?  Then later, gently pleading for my own sweet demise, so that I too can be absent with you.  But the monster simply roars with thunderous laughter.

© Michele Harrod October, 2010

Science and Spirituality: Separate, or just not properly introduced?

I’ve recently been having some discussions regarding some of the ‘New Age’ spiritual speakers who are becoming popular, such as Gregg Braden, and there seems to be much debate on his credentials and credibility.  I love listening to him speak – his ideas resonate within me and stir something dormant, and I feel excited at the possibilities he and his fellow specialists paint for us.  Oh, and don’t get me wrong, there are times I totally question it all too.  It is a form of faith in itself – trusting in ‘the light’ if you will, or in our own undeniable goodness!  I loved one analogy someone spoke of when discussing religion – that rather than one be right, and all the rest be wrong – maybe they are all right, in their own way?  And when I expand this beyond ‘religion’ I can look at all the actions we humans undertake, and give them a different spin.  With no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ judgements clouding my view.  Somehow I can even accept that animal cruelty (animal welfare being my choice of work in life) plays out a karmic role of some sort.  Otherwise I’d go mad with the utter insanity/injustice of it all.

Fear is indeed a major driver of all the things that are wrong in this world.  Fear of change, fear of the next guy ‘getting our share’.  Fear of not fitting in, and fear of losing our individuality.  Wow – what a battle we go through.  What warriors we are.  And our armor is – our Ego.  I think as humans, our job is to discover it, (which we do through our childhood), develop it (which we do through our teens and early twenties/thirties) and then totally destroy it (which we do by truly seeing the other person as exactly the same as us, that Oneness).  And literally, having no Ego block our reaction to them.

Hard to do.  It’s a feisty little monkey, the Ego.  It clings to us very tightly!!!  I often do what all scientists do, and hit the research papers searching for answers.  And then I think, darn, what if it really is this totally random, nonsensical thing?  What if there is no reason at all behind anything?  But then I remember the certainty I felt when I was younger.  Before I was ‘programmed’ to mistrust my neighbours, my fellow man, the world.  And most tragically – my own instincts.

And then I see the power of positivity – or love – and what can be achieved when the Ego is simply pushed out the back door by intensely powerful energies (these things sadly only happen in short bursts and on rare occasions, or in times of strife) but when they do, wow, I see our potential and it gives me great hope and excitement.  I saw this on the streets of Christchurch, after the 2012 earthquake – I saw humanity at it’s absolute finest, reaching out to help the next person in the street – and it broke my heart a little – knowing that it took such a terrible tragedy to pull that out of us.  Surely, we have it there, and can in fact, utilise that power every single day.  Why do we forget how to do that?

So, I am very interested in some of Gregg Braden’s ideas, I’m a scientist too, but I have always felt that science falls short by completely negating everything that it can’t physically measure. I have seen and experienced some incredible things that have had no basis in science, and are simply inexplicable from a scientific perspective, so I am what one might call a scientist with a spiritual bend. I think one day, when ‘science’ can measure the many things it currently denies exist, the human potential will be fully realised, and we will use our personal energies far more effectively and proactively. Science is just the study of what makes things work around us – and I think ‘science’ as a discipline is probably at the equivalent of primary school on the scale of all the knowledge that we are yet to discover. I sometimes wonder – if we hadn’t burned so many books in history, of great writings of the early Romans etc, if we would be years ahead of where we are now? The wisdom we have lost over the centuries is mind-boggling in itself.  Let alone the wisdom we have yet to attain.

I am convinced that we under-estimate the role every single one of us plays in the energies that create the world around us. I KNOW this, inherently – I can’t explain it, nor prove my hypothesis by conducting a repeatable experiment – but I love to explore the potential and power of human desire.  Probably because I grew tired of just witnessing the destruction that comes from human despair.

I like to think I live in exciting times where science will be turned on it’s head and made to say – “well, yes, there you go, that energy field really does exist – and just LOOK what it can achieve!!!

And I believe this ‘energy’ that Science remains baffled by – is DESIRE.  Albeit desire to survive, desire to attain, desire to love, or desire to destroy.  I think, somehow, it is what drives every single atom in our Universe.  It’s a very unscientific explanation isn’t it – but I even used to sit in classes, and have this whispering in the corner of my consciousness.  It is desire that drives our DNA to evolve – science can say we are a mutation, I say we were the result of a burning desire for ‘more’.  Just what that ‘more’ we are after is, is yet to be seen.

I believe we exude energy, be it peace, love, hope, desire, rage, anger, hatred – and the world around us responds in exact accordance to it. It’s that simple.  Turn on your television, and you will see the manifestation of our stress, our frustration, our anxiety ridden Ego, screaming inside for peace, but delivering only war and anger, and fear.

And also, do you notice how animals will respond to a person, so instantly?  THAT is to the energies I think we exude – science tells me this idea is just me ‘anthropomorphising’ the animal, ‘humanising’ it – to even imply it has ‘feelings’ or ’emotions’ like my own to even recognise ours.  And that it is in fact just scent, and some primal response from the animal.  But even if it is, it is something science cannot yet define.  “Give me the formula for that scent then”, I ask them – but they cannot!!.  So what chemicals do I release when I’m sad that makes my cat come up and snuggle even harder into my lap?  What is it I release when I feel intensely desolate, that makes dogs come running away from their owners and sit with me on the beach, and not just next to me, but crawling right into my lap and leaning into me, eyeballing me (this has happened twice, much to the shock of both owners).

I try to imagine that I can see that energy coming off others, or at least, I try to ‘feel’ it.  Especially when the ‘other’ is someone I react to in a negative way, someone who perhaps behaves in ways I find sickening.  Or believes in something I find untenable.  It is incredible how much forgiveness, or empathy I can create by doing that.  By seeing this frightened soul underneath the hard exterior.  A tiny loving person with an Ego that has sabotaged their inherent goodness.  This is how I manage to ‘process’ animal cruelty.  And it is how I try to process the madness that plays out on my television screen, whenever I turn on the world news.

I would do anything to be able to crush that aspect of the human ego, that allows us to kill, hunt, torture and maim – both animals and each other – all for reasons that are no longer valid or excusable.  I get very frustrated as a scientist realising how far away I am from finding the cure to this madness.  So, feeling into the ‘souls’ in the process – that helps me stay sane – and focused.  Because I have to believe we do, collectively, have the power to create that change.

That ‘Science’ and ‘Spirituality’ will, someday soon, meet – perhaps in a crowded bar.  They’ll strike up a conversation.  And start to enjoy each others company.  The piano man will sit down to play, and our new friends will clasp hands and start a slow dance.  And show us all how to move together, in a way that will take us to a whole new level of understanding.  Of sharing, and of loving.  Whilst burning with the DESIRE for a better world.


I invite you to dance with me – to the tune of change.


© Michele Harrod 19th November, 2012

Photo retrieved from :