Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"The Good Life..."

Last night I watched "Molokai" with some people from the church. Once a month we have "Movies with Meaning." It is a very moving movie. Among the many lines in the film was one I thought had great implications. Father Damien went to a building to rescue some kids. This building in the leper colony was where people drank heavily, girls worked as prostitutes etc. The idea given in the film was that these were lepers who knew that life held no future for them so they may as well enjoy what they could in "debauchary" (to use an old term) He went there to rescue these children and while there discovered that one of the girls living in this way was a young woman he had felt close to, and was tempted by, but had rejected because of his vows. Her response to his heartaching, enquiring look was, "Well, I am entitled to the good life." He looked deeply sad for a moment and almost looked like he was going to just walk away. Then he said something like, "The good life! ... the good life was when you fed the sick, held the children, made them less scared and made them laugh. That was the good life." Then he quietly and sadly walked away.

I sometimes look at the people around me living "The Good Life." My firemen for example, have heaps of free time and make big money. They have time and money to do and have so much that I can never afford. They sometimes scoff at the things I do for people,- "Why do it?" they ask. I sometimes think, where would I be if I never got involved in this ministry thing? What would it be like to "be normal"? Knock off at 5? Have weekends? Not be on call 24/7? Where would I be if we never spent money around the church and community like I do? What could I do if I never gave so many Saturdays to Habitat? What would life be like without drop-in centre and meetings etc. etc.? Sometimes I feel like I am pouring myself out all the time and that may be I should ditch it all and live for me???

I know I lead an unbalanced life, and I need to bring more balance into it, but as I talk with and have ongoing contact with people living "the good life" I often come away with the feeling that they seem sadly hollow, empty and superficial. They are struggling to find fulfilment in things that can never deliver. They worry about "little stuff" and I want to yell at them, "Get a life!". As unbalanced as I am, I think I have the better deal. When I stop and reflect, I am so fortunate to be where I am at.... and still learning still expanding my experiences of life. It's the grace of God. I am stupidly busy, but every now and then I get a deep buzz, as something reminds me that my life is "making a difference" and I am not just filling in time till the clock stops ticking for me. Maybe Jesus was right about "losing your life to gain it"? The good life is being there for and with others.

1 comment:

Mike Crowl said...

Yup, David, it's a constant balancing act, something that people like me who write, and make music struggle with all the time. Are these things of any value in eternity? N T Wright seems to think so, in his book Surprised by Hope. I hope so!