Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Friday, August 29, 2008


We have a severely handicapped foster daughter who now lives in a supported flatting situation away from home. She spends time at home with us about once a month. She is nearly thirty and has Retts Syndrome which leaves her unable to do hardly anything for herself. She is severely intellectually handicapped and has no ability to speak. On Friday Jean and I were walking down town and I saw Pania coming toward us in a wheel chair being pushed by the carer who works at the activity centre she goes to during the day. She was quite some distance off when she spotted us. Immediately her face lit up, she beamed from ear to ear and her beautiful brown eyes glistened with joy. It was so nice to see her and to know beyond doubt, even before we were close enough to say hello to her, that she was really, really pleased to see us. Her eyes and her smile warmed our heart!
This got me thinking about greetings and the feelings they leave us with. I was driving down to do chaplaincy at the fire station one day and spotted in the line of traffic inching up the other way, another chaplain friend with his badge on going to do his thing at his site. I wound down the window of the van ready to say hi as we passed and I saw him wind down his car window. As we waved together, he yelled at the top of his voice... "Gidday sexy!" People on the foot path all looked to see who was saying what to who. As I drove on I thought that they would never guess that here were two deeply committed Christian chaplains just saying "hi" to each other. That greeting meant, "We're colleagues together in the same team... all the best." I called at a fire station the other day and walked into an office. I saw a fire fighter there working on the computer and said, "Hi Boss, is everything under control?" He said "Hello boss", back and said, "Pull up a pew and sit down." We then continued catching up on some stuff very personal to him that we had often had sessions on before. That greeting meant, "We're companions on the road of life supporting each other and I want you to know what's going on for me." I was sitting at the Ambulance head quarters the other day eating my lunch with others in the kitchen. The mechanic came in and saw me there and with a grin on his face, rolled his eyes and said in mock disgust, "Oh God!!" I saw every eye in the room watching me to see how I would respond. I nonchalantly said, "See how well I have him trained....he looks at me and mentions 'God'. I'm having an impact at last!" Shaking his head with a grin on his face he got his coffee and sat down beside me. That greeting was just a cheeky, very male way of saying, "You're religious but you're OK." I headed in to town early on Saturday to go work on the Habitat house. To my surprise I saw a friend's vehicle going the other way. I knew that she too was on her way to a busy day. There was a brief surprised smile and enthusiastic wave as we sped past each other, but in that greeting was "All the best for your day!"
It can be just a few words hastily spoken, a look of recognition or delight, a smile or gesture, but these small greetings can mean so much on the journey of life. "Hi! How are you going? I hope you're having a nice day?"

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