In the week before Easter, it is time to take my annual pilgrimage. I go to St Matthew-in-the-city, which I have visited at this time for the last four years.

 There I find the labyrinth awaiting me. It is set out in river stones and candles each year, for the four days before Good Friday. Some of you have walked the labyrinth with me before. And now you can enter it again. Do you have a question? Pause a moment and let the question surface from the depths, like bubbles arising from a deep bush pool.

 My question arrived as I was sitting on the bus. When the right question comes up, it’s often surprising. For me, it was like a moment of illumination.

At the end of my slow walk to the centre, just as I was about to leave, a surprising thing happened. I heard a voice, arising as if from nowhere. ‘Would you like to go upstairs?” I looked around and could see no-one. Again, the voice came from the shadows: ‘Would you like to go upstairs?’ Then I saw her, sitting in a back queue, the woman who had earlier been tending the candles.
‘Would I?’ I love upstairs, and always have.
After all, I grew up in Taranaki, where the great cone of the mountain inspired me throughout my childhood. I wrote a whole book —a memoir called Touching Snow—about my childhood yearning to reach the mountain. (click to see it on my books page, and scroll down to the bottom)
The woman pointed me to a secret staircase in the corner. ‘You can open the iron gate,’ she assured me. And so I pulled aside an iron concertina gate, like the ones they used to have in lifts. I trod carefully up the narrow stone steps, that twisted around in darkness. Then I came out on to the balcony, and there below I could see the whole—and take a photo.
And so my pilgrimage was complete. And my question was now answered.