Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A roller-coaster day..

Yesterday I had a day of mixed emotions. Let me share some of the events with you.

The local Habitat for Humanity group began a project and I was not there. I have been heavily involved in all the local Habitat projects up to this point and was a founding member of the local affiliate. I have withdrawn from Habitat for a variety of reasons. I am not "at home" with directions it is heading in Nationally and some of the stuff locally. Also I got to thinking that the local Habitat folks tended to dump too much stuff on me, so decided it was best for me to make a clean break. My wife was busy organising lunches for the group and I felt a bit guilty and a wee bit of grief at not being there to enjoy the sense of achievement and the group feel.

I had to do some work toward Sunday's service. No matter how much preparation I do during the week days, I find a sermon is never done till it is over. So Saturdays are pretty important for this.

I had to prepare and then conduct an outside wedding at 2:30 in the afternoon. They were an interesting couple. He is wharf worker and they are "basic" people with no airs - what you see is what you get. I was to do a "homily" as part of the ceremony and sweated about what was appropriate to say to them. I'll let you know soon.

While I was preparing the wedding a guy, whose marriage is in a shambles, texted me desperate for some support. We talked on the phone for quite some time as he vented about his situation. He asked if I could get him a counsellor. (I was not good enough or qualified enough) ... on a Saturday? I finally finished the conversation and then managed to get him someone who would go and see him. In the meantime his estranged wife rang and we talked for quite some time on the phone. Others may be able to listen objectively and not be impacted by the sadness of the situation, but not me. I really felt and ached for these two people and the mess they found themselves in. I returned to preparing for the wedding ceremony with the feeling of saying to the happy couple, "Don't do it!! It is not worth the potential hurt!"

At around midday my daughter and son-in-law joined us for lunch with my son and daughter-in-law. Just after 1 p.m. my son and his wife were leaving for Christchurch, then to go to the other side of the world to live. I could not help but recall the scene in "Fiddler on the Roof" where Tevye is sitting at a small railway station where his daughter is about to board the train to join her fiance in Siberia. She says to her father, "God only knows when we'll see each other again, father?" Tevye replies, "Then we'll leave it in his hands" My son heads to the northern hemisphere to live and "God only knows when I'll see him again." We certainly do not have the excess funds to pay visits. As he left I was so choked up with emotion that I couldn't say anything. I choked out, "Look after yourselves." but that's all I could say. The lump in my throat and tear in my eyes prevented anything more. I have reservations about their plans but I know that they must make the decisions for themselves and I cannot see all that's involved.

Straight after saying goodbye to them I dashed into the shower, suited up and headed out the door to take this outdoor wedding, with the weather starting to feel cool. I had stewed about what I would say and found my thoughts being guided by the sad experience of the estranged couple. Just before I left I dived into a cupboard we have in the lounge and grabbed a model Mack Truck that I had assembled one lazy summer thirty odd years ago. I conducted the ceremony and here is what I said. I showed them the model truck and told them that it was fragile and needed to be treated with care. (It was sitting on top of their marriage papers which they would soon sign.) I went on to say that in the same way there were three things that needed to be treated with care in their marriage. "There is Wendy, there is Wayne, each is a special gift to the other and needs to be treated with care, respect and love. They, like my truck, can be easily broken." Then I said the third thing that needed to be treated with care was "their relationship together". It too can be easily broken if it was neglected or treated roughly. ... I told them that I said this very seriously because I had been "talking with two very hurt people this morning." I was intrigued. I had sweated over what to say, and somehow had decided this simple "object lesson" seemed to fit who they were. At some stage as we wound up the ceremony the groom said to me, "Can I take the truck home?" "No!" said the bride, "We already have too many!" I had chosen a "homily" that fitted well with this couple. One saint of old said, "When I pray coincidences happen. When I stop, they stop." I was impressed, the groom was so moved about the whole vows and the fact that he was actually getting married that he choked up repeating his vows. I think they are going to be OK.

After the wedding I took off up "my Mountain" I had been saddened by others' predicament, I had felt heartbroken at the departure of my son, I had shared in a couple's joy and I still had Sunday's service hanging over my head. I had a real mixed bag of feelings. A walk above the clouds, in the bush seemed appropriate.

Today... I led a Sunday service I felt good about. I seemed to be able to communicate well this morning. This afternoon I have had two lots of exercise. I went up the organ pipe track (I know... again!) to the top of Mount Cargill and back in 1hour, 8 minutes, which is pretty good for an older fella. Then I went for a short run with my friend.
  • The amazing cloud formations over the hills yesterday.
  • I enjoyed my trip to the top of the mountain but it looks like someone had even more fun?
  • The model truck I used as an "object lesson."

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