During our holidays we visited the rural township of Apiti in the North Island. We owned a property there and lived there for a while. It was a sad visit. When we lived there the garage was a bustling centre of activity where cars and farm machinery were fixed and people stopped for a chat. Now it sells fuel and looked empty and closed. There was a general store and like country stores of old you could just about buy ANYTHING there if you looked hard enough. It was no longer standing. The church's path was way overgrown, a sure sign that services had stopped. The Post Office was now a house. We called into the pub and interrupted the proprietor's afternoon by getting him to turn his beer systems on to get us a drink. Worst of all in this empty looking ghost township, our old house, along with its garage, and the sheds, goat sheds and hen houses I had established were all pulled down. The guts seemed to have gone out of this town in the 23 years since we left it.
Another place we stayed at on holiday was Foxton. On the Saturday we went to a market they held in a local business' yard. It was great. There were people selling arts and crafts, old nic-nacs and secondhand books. There was a vege stall, a sausage sizzle and an under canvas coffee bar. But it was the feeling of the place that impressed us. It was alive with a sense of community. People were greeting each other warmly, catching up on kids and there were hugs smiles and laughter all around. There was a couple with a music set up who took turns at singing. They would say "hi" to passers by as they sang, and "thank you" mid-line in a song if you put a coin in their hat. The guy gave announcements over the microphone about bargains at the market. He was announcing the price of a vegetable at the vege store and spontaneously said, "Shit that's cheap!" We stopped at the canvas cafe and the proprietor chatted for a couple of minutes and invited us into his semi-trailer kitchen. He had a fully functioning commercial kitchen in the back of this truck where he baked bread, buns, scones or whatever. But he treated us like friends and showed us around his pride and joy. We came away feeling that Foxton was a place where it would be good to live. It was alive, friendly and buzzing.
I am convinced that we are doing the world a great favour when ever we create moments of "community", or spaces where "community" happens..... people enjoying each other's company; people meeting people; laughter; friendship and love developing. I am convinced that the church should not just be a community, but should be in our communities facilitating spaces and places where community is experienced.
Last Sunday ... a run. Tuesday ... a gym session. Wednesday .... a 2hour church walking group. Thursday ... a gym session and later a run. Friday ... a gym session, Saturday ... a walk up "my Mountain." Tonight ... a run. My friend weighed me when I visited the brewery on Thursday and in the last 2 weeks I have lost 2.5 kg. I have got to the stage of enjoying the runs. This old man is really starting to regain a measure of fitness. :-).... I learned this week that eggs are not as harmful for cholesterol levels as thought. We have hens and I LOVE fresh, golden yoked eggs!
A man from Hawaii is in town and wants to help a Habitat for Humanity project. I have to spend my day off tomorrow working with him installing a gate at the last Habitat house. I learned tonight that a local bank is keen to get involved in a Habitat project and on Tuesday morning I have been asked to go speak to the staff about Habitat for Humanity. It feels like every time I turn the speed dial down a bit on the treadmill of life, someone steps in and turns it up for me! Oh well, you only live once.
(Photo: Our acre and house at Apiti. Milking goats, hens and their houses in the paddock.)