Ad Feedback

Saintly can be hard to live with

The Southland Times
Last updated 05:00 01/10/2009

Relevant offers

OPINION: It's a funny thing, but no matter how hard we try we always love the sinners more than the saints who would be, I suspect, very hard to live with, writes Pat Veltkamp Smith in this week's And Another Thing.

I remember my mother pointing that out to me once and it is so.

We aren't talking of real sinners —  not bad eggs but people whose virtue is less obvious than the sparkle that catches or ignites our own.

It is like watching the sadness of the land as we let go of Howard Morrison, whose music has made memories for everyone.

Now when fellow Sir, Edmund Hillary, died, we were taken aback, too.

But while we admire someone like Sir Ed, his stoicism, his endeavours on mountains and ice, his goodness to the people of Nepal, while we admire and applaud all of that, it is a far cry from the sorrow felt at Howard Morrison's passing.

We were piqued —  I certainly was —  that no member of the British Royal family came out to help us farewell Sir Edmund.

But we never thought Howard Morrison needed anyone more than our own Clutha Southland MP Bill English, whose words said it all, that Sir Howard made us smile, made us laugh, brought us together, proved that people could be in the public eye and be loved.

See, rare but it happened.

Sir Howard showed that faith and fun can mix like Maori and Pakeha.

We can talk our heads off about abstracts such as race relations but one guy with a good heart can make it happen, again like Billy T James, so we are all singing from the same song sheet.

Why did my mother say saints would be hard to live with? Because we were all condemnatory of a young person who had battled her granny and we said how awful and she such a good woman and my mother said, suddenly thoughtful, the saintly can be hard to live with.

She was teaching us balance, of course, and thought and compassion and non- judgmentalism —  all of that.

But it is a line that has stayed with me.

I think of my mother and I think, too, of Saint Monica who long ago was praying that her son, later to become the sainted Augustine, might find God, mend his ways and become good.

Augustine was praying for that too, only —  he added —  not too soon, not quite yet.

There's not too great a leap from sinner to sainthood, nor, possibly, the other way round.

But as we hope to still have a few friends at the end, best not adopt too saintly a posture too soon.

It is not what people say that we remember: it is how they make us feel.

And Howard Morrison's music, it made us feel —  happy!

» Pat Veltkamp Smith was Southland Times women's editor until 1997 and is a former president of the Southland Justices of the Peace Association.

Ad Feedback
Post a comment

Post comment


Required. Will not be published.
Registration is not required to post a comment but if you sign in, you will not have to enter your details each time you comment. Registered members also have access to extra features. Create an account now.

I have read and accepted the terms and conditions
These comments are moderated. Your comment, if approved, may not appear immediately. Please direct any queries about comment moderation to the Opinion Editor at
Ad Feedback
Special offers

Featured Promotions