Photo taken by Joy's grandson Weston
Photo taken by Joy's grandson Weston
PO Box 42
Featherston 5740
New Zealand

November 2020

Dear Friends,

We have experienced a strange year, most of the world living in uncertainty. A freedom we took for granted, was suddenly restricted by an enemy we could neither see nor fight. Yet it is true that every shadow is attached to light, and here in New Zealand, the dark threat of COVID-19 also brought unexpected blessing.

You will all be aware of the way the pandemic has changed your year. Like me, you will reflect on the unexpected goodness that came from Lockdown.

Here is my list:

  1. COVID-19 as a leveller. It does not discriminate country, culture, class or rank. There is a teaching in that.
  2. Paradoxically, in separation there was more connection. People were more aware of each other, more caring.
  3. Families spent time together.
  4. We were grateful for good leaders who worked tirelessly to keep us safe, without ever turning it into a political issue.
  5. We smiled when we thought of animals and birds roaming free while we humans sat in cages.
  6. We had to admit that the world was cleaner, fresher without us. I thought of a quote from Mark Twain: "Man is the highest creation. Now, I wonder who found that out?"
  7. We had time to reflect on our priorities and values.

I’m sure you will have your own list, and like me you will be aware that we are not the same as we were this time last year.

In 2019 Featherston Booktown had about 8,000 visitors. This year, the event had to be cancelled, but it is planned again for 2021. Mary Biggs steers these events with great wisdom and energy, and this year she has organised a well-attended book event for most months. Her husband Peter Biggs is now the CEO of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and he has asked me to do a pre-concert talk next year for Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. I am so happy to be asked. It is one of my favourite choral masses.

Failing sight has probably imposed more limits than has COVID-19, but I can still write in 48pt print, and touch has become more sensitive. I also spend time with the concert programme, listening to music while I spin wool by touch. Macular degeneration means I gaze on a world softened by mist. I see colour, form, movement but not detail. The worst aspect is not seeing people’s faces until they are very close. I still worry that I might be missing smiles of greeting.

Terry is still at home, and we manage together like a pair of old slippers. He is in his 91st year and lovely, a kind and gentle man, deliciously forgetful, but still with a good appetite. He is lovely to be with.

And writing? Julia Marshall of Gecko Press is putting out a little book of “The Tiny Woman’s Coat” and is also sorting stories for another collection like "The Gobbledegook Book."

Robyn Belton who illustrated all the Greedy Cat books, asked me to write a new GC story for a picture book. At first, I thought we had covered all possible plots but then realised we had not done "Greedy Cat’s Christmas." This month, I’ll be working with Robyn on the pagination, and we hope to have it published for Christmas next year.

A few months ago, I had published a new spirituality book called "Coming Hone – an Ignatian journey for women,". That is being distributed by Pleroma in the Hawkes Bay. I am still involved with retreats and days of reflection.

During the year, a lovely thing happened. I was made an Icon for the Arts Foundation, one of twenty New Zealanders who have made a contribution to the arts. Isn’t it great that children’s books should be given that status? May that always be so!

I send you all loving greetings, and hope you are all safe, happy and cherished.

Joy Cowley

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last update 10 May 2011