Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thinking out loud...

Sun, birdsong and beauty thumbnails.
Here are some pictures from my life in NZ over the last few days;
* Coming home to Sawyers Bay, 10-15 minutes out of the city centre and hardly hearing a sound. In the midst of bush and farmland we have a great place to withdraw to after busy days.
* Riding my bike beside the Otago Harbour. The green hills, the sea, the bays are simply beautiful.
* I came home from a run and climbed out of the car and was struck by the birdsong coming out of the trees and bush all around. I never heard such birdsong overseas.
* Lying on the grass verge by my car in the sun, soaking up its warmth. A week ago at the same time I was running into a cold rain almost blowing horizontally. It is never the same, but some how that is good to.
In spite of an earthquake in Christchurch and the tragic Pike River Mine Disaster, New Zealand is a beautiful place to live.

29 lives lost in the Pike River mine and other tragic lives lost.
I have been very sad about the 29 men who lost their lives in the Pike River mine disaster. It has struck a deep chord with us in NZ. There are condolence books to sign. We are raising money for the families. We are lighting candles and holding church services. It has hit us in NZ very hard and there is a public outpouring of grief. There are people wanting an enquiry and wanting to know what happened and why it happened. All sorts of sentimental messages are being sent around about the 29 dead which are loving and an expression of support. As nice as these are, they do not change the harsh reality that 29 dads, sons, partners, husbands, uncles and friends are dead. It is very sad.

It has hit us because in a moment 29 lives were wiped out. I do not want to detract from the tragedy in anyway, what I want to say is let's use this tragedy to truly value human life. Let me put beside it other sad statistics though. Because of our gung-ho attitude toward driving we kill over 29 people on our roads every month! Do we grieve these lives? We should be just as shocked and distraught at this tragic waste of life. We will demand that mines be safer because of the tragedy at Pike River. But do I let the monthly death toll on our roads change my aggressive driving habits? Another statistic is that if we add another 10 to 29, we get roughly the number of people (including children) killed in family violence in a year in NZ. (There must be heaps more injuries and other hurts)
The mine and these statistics are VERY sad. People are valuable! Let's do all we can to keep them alive, enhance their living and make them know they are valuable.

Deep fulfillment.
I am often frustrated with my life. I often ask myself or God "Why can't I be pastor to some wildly growing church?" I find myself wondering if I am "successful"? But lately I have been reminded of some positives.
* At lunch time we dropped a man off at his boarding house and as we drove away I said to my wife, "He's a different man than what he used to be isn't he?" It is true, and I have been a big part of that. How good is that?
* I have had several people, now adults with families, who were in youth groups I have run come up to me and say that my ministry has given them a good basis for their life. How good is that?
* On Friday I asked a fire fighter how he was. "I am much better now after talking to you the other day." I thought he was just joking but he was serious. As far as he was concerned, simply by listening, I had helped him greatly. He said, "That's how it works! That's why we have you." How good is that?
* My wife and I counted up relatively new faces within the orbit of our church life and the contribution these people are making. There was a surprising number on the list.
* I met a woman who was a lecturer at a social work course I did in 1994. As we caught up and talked, I began to tell her the various things I had been involved in since then. I realised that there have been a lot of good things I had been fortunate enough to achieve.

That's enough. At the moment I feel deeply fulfilled. That is a very rewarding. I might get grumpy next week but just now, life is sweet.

* A shrub in our backyard
* The Silver Peaks hills near here.
* A view from our back paddock. NZ - a nice place to live.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Experts galore..about Pike River Mine.

I am just home from my drop-in centre. Often at my drop-in I am tempted to be unkind. Sometimes some people, who have not got a job, who have limited education and experience of life can tend to be very opinionated. They will tell me how to run my church, the drop-in centre and what is wrong with everyone else. Often I feel like saying, "How come if you are so knowledgeable you haven't got a job and you have to come to the drop-in for a free feed?" I think this opinionated approach to issues is part of the kiwi male way of expressing themselves. I don't know how many men I have come across who express definite opinions about what the rescuers should have done at the mine! "The pack of wooses! They should have bitten the bullet and gone in!" "There's a window of opportunity. They mucked around too much!" and so it goes on. I would guarantee that none of the guys I have heard pontificating have ever been down a mine! ... but still suddenly they are mine experts. ... OSH health experts! They know how to lead a police operation! etc. etc. We currently have so many mine experts in NZ that we should take over the world's mines! Every body is an expert.

I don't get nasty at these pontifications. What they are really saying is "I am sad that these guys are dead. I cannot comprehend how that can happen. It is unfair!" The world in "God's own" has come up with this unjust, very sad tragedy and they are trying to come to terms with it. They do not exactly know how to make contact with and name their feelings so they lash out in any way to try to somehow make sense of it all.

It is true that we men do not know how to name and express feelings. In my experience "know-alls" are often trying to give expression to some deep feeling - often related to some sort of insecurity. What we should be saying is really; "I am deeply sad and disturbed by this tragedy. It is hard to comprehend and I feel for the families and anyone associated with it. I know bugger all about mines, but I wish the outcome was different!"

But then again I am sounding like a know-all myself! Please put up with us kiwi male know-alls, listen to the insecure, frightened little boys behind the bluster, and be please be patient with us.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I am fortunate indeed...

I grump about my job often. There is no doubt that ministry in the NZ Churches of Christ for someone of my theological ilk is going to be tough. It is also true that trying to be a christian workplace chaplain, making conversation and "being all things to all people" in our secular culture is a difficult job. But when I think about it, it is also very interesting. I have talked with some good and interesting people today and I will share with you a list of some of them.

This morning I talked with Don the unofficial historian for the brewery. He is always interesting to chat with because he has a mind for detail and a sense of humour to go with it. While at the brewery I talked with the manager there about all sorts of things. I talked with an engineer about his plans for a bit of machinery.

I had my chaplaincy "appraisal" today with the CEO of Workplace Support southern region. She is always very positive and encouraging and we have the same questions and dreams for expressing the way of Jesus. It was an encouraging hour. We met at Starbucks and while there I had conversations with the girl who served us (the daughter of a member of our congregation.. she wraps the presents for our Christmas day dinner) a man I know who came in on his disability scooter, and another fire service employee. (It seems like there are few places I can go in town where someone does not recognise me. My wife and daughter complain about this when I am in the street with them.)

At lunch time I shared for a time in a conversation group related to sustainability, brainstormed on songs with my organist and spent half an hour meeting with my elders.There were phone conversations with people who were volunteering for Christmas day.

On my walk to the chaplaincy site this afternoon I bumped into a lawyer guy who has assisted with Christmas Day dinners and who I knew was looking for me to make a donation from his firm this year. He greeted me warmly, calling me "Dave, my boy." This afternoon I talked to reporters and photographers at the newspaper. It is very interesting learning about their jobs and the things they report on. While there I spent time with one of the editors. On my way back to the office I talked to the guy who sweeps the streets.

These are just some of the conversations I have had in my work today. As I walked down the footpath after my conversation with the street sweeper I thought, "How lucky am I!" From a manager of a brewery, to an editor in a newspaper, journalists, greenies, horse racing writers, the street sweeper and many more - such a wide range of people! - And all in their way so interesting! Who else in their work in one day would get to talk to such a wide range of people? I should not growl.

"Some people would not wave..."
The street sweeper's name is Daryl. I bump into him about once a week and often stop to chat, since he called into my office years ago to ask about something. He is christian guy who while sweeping the streets is watching people and thinking, and often has amazing insights into life. While I was in Starbucks talking with my CEO he walked past down the footpath outside and saw me sitting at the table. He quickly averted his eyes, but I waved to him and thought nothing of it. When I saw him on my way back from the newspaper after 5 p.m. I went up to him and asked him how many hours a day he worked. We chatted and when I went to go away he said something which is quite sad in some ways. He said, "Cheers for stopping and chatting, I really appreciate it." Then he said, "Cheers for waving at me in Starbucks. A lot of people I know when they see me when they are with someone else, would not wave, they think its not ...." he hesitated... "the proper thing to do. But you waved and that was nice." ..... We can be such stupid snobs, can't we? But in the long run we miss out. He may be "just the street sweeper" but he adds to my life. I can multiply my total experience of life by seeing life through his eyes.

I am lucky... remind me of that from time to time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When do you jump ship & what's the option?

I was doing some reading in books and on line for Advent Sunday preparation last night. Somehow I got onto a video of a sermon by Bishop John Spong looking into the reason for anti-gay/lesbian feelings and action in the Christian Church. He spoke of Roman Catholic history and circumstance. He spoke of Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian perspectives but then raised a good point about Christianity in general. I sat there saying "AMEN" and "You tell them" to what he was saying. It is often for me a deep matter of feeling like I am in the wrong place, and even a matter of honesty and integrity.

What he pointed out was that often the view of God and humanity presented in hymns, liturgy and christian teaching is extremely negative. We are victimized when we go to church. He told of attending a Church service within his own Dioceses and counting 54 requests for "mercy" from God! He quoted well known and popular Christian songs as calling humans "worms" and "wretch" and such like. (e.g. "Amazing Grace" ... that saved a wretch like me") He pointed out how we have this old substitution theory of Jesus "paying the price" with his blood to a vengeful God. He quoted hymns focused on "the blood" - "washed in the blood", "fountain of blood" etc. etc. He said that we have this picture of God "taking us out to the woodshed and he is going to beat us his naughty children. But at the last moment Jesus steps in and takes the beating for us... because we can't take it." He pointed out that again and again in Christian songs and services we are put down as evil, sinful and nasty pieces of work, and that God the angry judge is after us. He is saying that this comes through in mainline christian worship... not just nasty fundamentalist worship. He goes on to say that we are victimised in church. We come out feeling guilty and beaten up and so, he says, beaten up people often look for others to beat up. This is the reason we Christians often pick on anybody different, such as gay/lesbian folk and others who do not conform.

He then finished with the plea that the "way" we see in Jesus sees God as the source of love and we are to love freely and wastefully. God is the source of life and we are to live it fully and freely. We are not meant to be grovelling, snivelling and fearful human beings but called to live positively, reaching up and out to be all that we can be - reaching our potential as Christ reached his.

I agree. But I will look through our song books for Sunday and there are few songs, ancient and modern, that do not pass on this negative aspect of Christianity. I will allow lay people to pray at the communion table and often (less often than it used to happen thank God) their prayers will focus on "the blood" and this negative aspect of humanity. I received Christmas resources from the Bible Society and they tend to depict this distorted image of Christianity. I was at a chaplaincy yesterday and one guy came out with a heap of expletives. "Hey" said another guy jokingly, "We have a man of the cloth here, he does not want to hear all that filthy language. You'll get hit by lightening!" He was joking but on a serious note the "default" view of God, the Church and "the clergy" that many have is one of negativity, judgement and that they will see them as "sinful wretches".

My question is... I am hooked on Jesus and seek to follow him, and express his positive way. (Along with me, Spong loves John 10:10 Jesus saying, "I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly") I think truly significant, useful and fulfilling life is found in Jesus. But.... Christianity has all this negative baggage! How can you work in Church or within Christianity when there is so much distortion of the way of Jesus? There is one channel I struggle to get on our TV. I adjust the rabbits ears, but again and again the picture becomes too snowy, ghosty or distorted. I will get up and fiddle with the aerial repeatedly. Often eventually I will tune out of that channel and switch to another. Is the Church's picture of Christ "too snowy, ghosted or distorted" to be bothered keeping on trying to adjust the channel? When does the distorted baggage that the church carry become too much of a burden as a follower of Jesus, and you must ditch the church?

Many of my colleagues have done that. I am constantly tempted to do that. Often on Sunday as I read the words of a hymn I feel my gut twisting inside! (But often too that hymn is the best of a pretty bad bunch - I hate trying to choose hymns) But the question I ask is "where else is the way of Jesus promoted?" If I dump the institution where else is there where Jesus' very relevant way can be promoted? Of course I can opt out and remain a follower of Jesus, but somehow as a follower of Jesus there needs to be some place where the Jesus story and way are recited - a point of reminder for the community at large. At the moment all we have is "the church". ... It needs changed. To me it would seem like I was being gutless if I followed the crowd out of the church. Enough people, lay and clergy, need to bite the bullet and stay to keep asking the questions, nudging and prodding the old girl in more sane, wholesome, Jesus-like directions. Too many have left, and we are left with the people preaching the "people controlling" distortion! I am glad that "emerging Christianity" or "progressive Christianity" seems to be taking hold. Probably it is all too late for me to enjoy. I will have to struggle on in the often misunderstood task of trying my best to represent and get the church to represent Jesus. But I sense there are less distorted options approaching for generations ahead. .....Thank God.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pike river Coal mine...

The horrible wait...
I first heard about the Pike River Coal mine explosion when I was visiting a fire station on Friday. One of the guys was following the call-out information and incident reports on the Fire Service internet links. Being chaplain to fire fighters and ambulance officers I know that they will be frustrated that they cannot complete their job. As I write the rescuers are not able to get into the mine and rescuers, ambulance staff, fire fighters, family, the West Coast community and indeed the whole country wait for the fourth night of uncertainty. Some how because I have been involved with emergency staff and various incidents from time to time I have been quite distracted and upset by this Pike River situation. There is a part of me who would love to be there to support the emergency staff, but they will have their support systems, it is out of my patch. But, like everybody in the country, I feel for their situation.

The media...
I am thankful for the media when they give information at a time like this. But I have been growing increasingly concerned by the sorts of things that the media people are doing. When there was the terrible mass shooting down the road from here at Aromoana I recall the actions of some media people. I was in Port Chalmers and two obviously grieving people came out of the Port Chalmers Police Station. One was weeping and quite distraught, the other supporting and comforting her friend. As they walked down the street two men with a TV camera and microphone were keeping pace with them filming them and trying to ask questions. The comforter was beckoning them away, her friend obviously did not want this media attention, but still they persisted. It was so intrusive and insensitive. I get the same feeling about media in Greymouth at this event. They are there to get a story, but nothing much is happening, so they are trying to fill their time slots by asking stupid, intrusive and annoying questions of locals who are struggling to come to terms with what is happening.

To the media people I would say, please find facts out for us. We all want to know, we feel for the people involved. But please, please don't make make what is already a terrible event a more difficult event by being intrusive, insensitive and dragging up stories out of nothing. Please don't inflame an already tense and complicated situation. Please don't keep asking the same stupid questions, you already know that the people in control do not know some of the answers for. If they knew the answers they would be acting on that knowledge.

Business house fun run...
I ran in a business house fun run tonight. I ran for the brewery team. I had hoped to have my running friend as a guest runner with us but the man responsible for putting our names in failed to put her's in. I used to run for Speights Brewery frequently, but have not done it for a number of years. When I heard it was coming up and I was running fairly freely, I agreed to be part of the team. It was a good thing I did, because you need a team of three, and on the day that is all there was of us. I growled all day about going. I got stressed because I was part of a team and I might let the team down. I am still getting over a cold/flu type thing and get wheezy easily at the moment and wondered how I would go in a race. I knew I am not running as well as I was three weeks ago, so was scared that I would make a fool of myself. My friend Don at Speights can be impatient with people who let the side down, so I felt stressed by the whole idea of going in this race.
I turned up. We were entered in the 5k race. As I looked around on the start line I estimated that I was probably the oldest in the race. My team mate looked around and agreed with me. I ran and quickly became aware that I was not as full of energy or as strong as I have been even a week ago, and I was breathing heavily. People were passing me, (though some of them stopped and walked later) and I thought I was going to disgrace myself. I kept going and even managed to put a bit of extra speed on as I came up to the line. I crossed the finish line and walked to the end of the shoot. They had a clock there that read 27 minutes, 5 seconds as I passed. I reckon that's not bad for an overweight, ailing sixty two year old. I was far from last to finish. I was expecting to be met with scathing disappointment from my friend Don and my team mates, but the opposite was the case. Don said, "You did well." He used to be an ardent runner but now faces a disabling illness. "It is years ago since I could run under thirty minutes for 5k!" he said admiringly.
I was so pleased I went, even though I was grumpy about doing it. There is something exhilarating about being among runners in a race. While I knew I could have done better on a different day, I was pleased to do as well as I did. It made me feel more alive and younger. I must admit though that when I finished there was only one place I wanted to go. Jimmy, one of my team mates, called out from the other side of the track, "Well done Dave! We are over here!" I responded with, "Tell me - where are the dunnies?" I needed a loo! That's what happens when you are an old man.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Talking and listening...

"If you ever wonder what your job is about..."
I took a funeral for a guy who, at one stage, worked at a parking building. He was made redundant from the job but years ago he got a card from a lady, who was a regular at the parking building. It was anonymous, but here is what it said....

"To the man in the parking booth.
I just want you to know that every time I park here, you smile and say something nice. Then I smile and feel good all the way home and so that rubs off on the people at home.
So- if you ever wonder what your job is about - remember you have the power to change people's days! :-) "

I think that is so cool. It is also a great reminder that how we interact with people can make a significant difference in our world and community. This man was not a boss, was not a big mover and shaker and was not a trained counsellor or social worker. He just took money in a parking booth!
I am privileged to have people to talk with me.
Once again for a busy week I have had people share with me in my job as chaplain. They talk about all sorts of things. Sometimes it is their beliefs. At other times it is what is happening for them at home. Very few times do they want "help", all they want really is another human to talk with and who will listen. I often come away wondering what on earth I am doing. They just talk to me, they are not seeking help and sometimes it feels like they are just passing the time of day with me. But every now and then I need to be reminded that two humans passing the time of day together can be life-changing and life enhancing. I know that... that is why we have Space2B at the church. That's why I play endless games of pool and do stacks of dishes at the drop-in centre. Programs, preaching and reading and learning are fine, but it is relationships that really change lives. I need to remember that.
Change does happen...
We have a guy at our drop-in centre who now attends our church who has come across as a sleazy piece of work. He often made inappropriate comments. I got so angry with him one night that I told him that people saw him in that way and did not like his company because of that. Well the last few weeks I have been watching him and I think he is changing! I can think of quite a few people who have changed.... by what? People relating to them in love.
What to do...
The local community newspaper has people nominate others for community awards. My wife won one a few years ago. I was nominated one year but never won it. It was quite embarrassing being at the function given that my wife had won it before. I received an invitation to this year's function, I think someone has nominated me again. It is a bit complicated because I am now chaplain to the staff at the newspaper so I doubt that they would select me as winner anyway. If I refuse to attend or pull out it will mean that I seem ungrateful to the lady that nominated me? But to attend will be embarrassing and will look, to the staff at the paper, like I want to win it? It will look like I am big headed. I am doing less in the community than when I was last nominated. What to do?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You know you are tired when...

I always seem to be under pressure these days though I have simplified my life by pulling out of Habitat for Humanity projects. This week has been full on but in the last few days I have noticed things about me that are worrying.

When I was recording a radio service on Wednesday I was reading words off a sheet of paper but a few times I found I just could not get the words out. I was like a person who stutters trying to say something. I knew what I wanted to say but somehow things seized up between my brain and mouth. On Thursday morning I was lying in bed going over the things I had to do during the day. I was running over in my mind the funeral eulogy. My mind would start on a thought or sentence but then slide on to something totally unrelated. It was a bit like your mind gets just as you are falling asleep, but this was first thing in the morning? I then got worried about how I would perform at the funeral. (In fact I started to wonder if I had experienced some sort of mini stroke or something.) I did some more preparation and then a chaplaincy visit to the brewery in the morning. As I drove out to the funeral at about 12:30 I was driving along a familiar road just entering an intersection and I realised to my horror that I had driven through a red light! I slammed on the brakes, with great screeching and smoking of the tires, stopped and reversed up. I sat there looking foolish as people looked at me and shook their heads disapprovingly. "I am tired!" I said to myself. Later as I stood waiting for the funeral director to give me the signal to walk up the front and begin proceedings, with about 200 people sitting there expectantly, I was even more nervous than normal, wondering if I would cope. I did stutter and stammer a bit, but I did OK. After the funeral I paid a chaplaincy visit, I brainstormed on songs for Sunday and went to a Night Shelter Trust meeting at 5:30 p.m. At night I worked on two emails related to this Sunday service.

This morning I have eased up. I did some work, wandered down the road in the sun, window shopped for a while, then bought some morning tea and have been slowly reading stuff for Sunday in a relaxed way. I will have to make up some chaplaincy hours next week. I realise that I have been too busy and my poor old brain (that is probably under-resourced at the best of times) has been starting to blow a fuse or two.

At the moment I have an easy day tomorrow to look forward to.

I did a good job.

Since I growled on Monday about having to do a funeral today, I thought I should report. I made it today quite successfully, but have had to work the last three nights till quite late. I know it was not my best effort but I received so much positive feedback. I really appreciated a tribute that the guy's daughter in law shared. It was an important part of the ceremony. People said that I tied it all together well. I find it stressful, but I think I must do it quite well.

It is nice that the fire fighters past and present seem to have confidence that I will do a good job. Anyway, I am relieved it went well but I am exhausted tonight.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Emotional wreck?

I am a man! Men don't cry! ... right. I have noticed in my life time that as I get older I am much more likely to choke up, cry or get emotional. I also notice that some times I go through periods of "emotional instability" in this way. I recall many years ago I had a bout of glandular fever and was knocked back so much that I was as weak as a kitten and could not do much at all. I was off work for six weeks. That was the start of a new emotional David Brown. I would look at TV and cry over news items and sad events reported. I would choke up at the drop of a hat. Since then I have found myself choking up much more often than I used to. There are sometimes profound triggers. A TV program about child abuse had me sitting with tears running down my cheeks. All sorts of life history and childhood feelings came to the surface for me. Sometimes something that triggers memories of bereavements I have experienced will bring out these episodes. But I do notice that at certain points in time I am more "fragile" than normal. On Sunday I was making a birthday presentation to a much loved and respected 90 year old and I struggled to get through it. I was choking up and we ended up clasping each others' hands almost for mutual support. This morning, while reading the paper I was inspired by a couple of articles. I tried reading relevant parts out to my wife and I choked up!

If I had the time I should go to a counsellor and try to work out what is going on. I am a bundle of conflicting emotions at the moment. One moment I am inspired to change the world, the next I want out! Is it just old age? Does it signal "burnout"? Or is it just me being more whole and open about what I feel? Anyway choking up about articles in the paper this morning made me realise that I am going through one of those stages at the moment. I don't have time to sort it out, I have funerals to run, radio services to record and people to see and places to go.

I have latched on to this advice from Albert Einstein... "Try not to become a person of success but rather a person of value." Maybe I am rationalising my lack of "success" but I quite like that sentence.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Monday morning

Get your funeral organised
I am a little bit grumpy. It is my day off and I am going to have to work to arrange a funeral for a family I don't know. I will probably do the funeral and enjoy the fact that I could be there for these people, but at the moment I feel differently. It serves me right. Just the other day I was driving past the funeral parlour and was thinking of how I could have got out of ministry, and that in three years time I will retire. I looked at this building and said to myself, "It will be so nice to know I will never have the responsibility of another funeral!" But when you think about it why should I take this funeral? I don't know them? I am trundling along leading an already busy life and these people will take it for granted that I will be there for them? That I should be there for them, after all he's a "man of God"? My week will be stressful? Every waking hour will be packed with work and there is the stress of trying to get it right for the family. ... Let me in love say that it would be a good idea if people thought about possible funeral celebrants before they died. Any body is allowed to take a funeral. It is much easier if you have some one you know. Line up a friend, a person with public speaking ability and ask them to be ready to fill the bill. I will do this funeral, but because of who I am and my already busy schedule it will be an incredibly stressful exercise.
Analysed by experts...
I met a man the other day who I had not met for over a year. We shook hands and he immediately asked, "Are you still a workaholic?" .... I stuttered and stumbled through some reply... What I would liked to have said is "I am NOT a workaholic!" Grrrr. I was talking with a woman I have known for a number of years, but we are more acquaintances than friends. She lives in another part of the country and was in town for her father-in-law's birthday. We were talking about a mutual friend and I was saying that he's quite a shy guy. As quick as a flash she said, "The same as you David. You are shy." Another in the conversation, again a visitor I have known for years, but not closely, offered, "David's a shy guy. He is a forced extrovert. He has to push himself to do the things he does." ... I stood there speechless. "How do you know who I am? What gives you the right to pontificate on my personality type?" I thought of saying. But being shy I smiled and said something stupid. So there you have it, I am a "shy, forced extrovert, workaholic." I have been analysed by experts.
Albert Schweitzer's wisdom..
Lecturing to graduating students the great man said these words; "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve" I wonder if he ever had "Ministers' Monday blues"?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

An "I made it" Sunday.

I made it!
This last week has been one of those weeks when I have had to just carry on even though I have not felt 100% healthy. Once again there have been a few extra unexpected time consuming things thrown into the mix. I looked at the set reading for Sunday and thought that it was a complicated passage to dissect and even then was not inspired by the message of the passage. There were a few verses in which Jesus warned his disciples of difficulties ahead, and it struck me that Jesus often did this. I explored more passages on this. There are those around who promise would-be disciples of Jesus all sorts of things, even riches. They maybe slick salesmen, but they are not in tune with Jesus. Again and again he warned that following him was a challenging way. Not good salesmanship and not popular then or now. It seems to me that if we are going to be true to him though, we cannot ignore these insights. So I decided to explore why it was a challenging way. I had not investigated it much, but had been gathering resources in my mind, and forming a direction for the day. On Friday night after drop-in centre I took a paper and pen to bed and wrote furiously. I brainstormed, writing things down, then ordering, discarding, scribbling down more resources to look up. Saturday was spent on other work and some Habitat for Humanity stuff. When I got home a funeral director phoned to ask if I would do a funeral on Thursday. Of course I said "yes", but wondered how I could fit at least another 8 hours into the week ahead. On Saturday evening we had a delightful multi-ethnic family night at the Church. Late Saturday night I got to return to the service and did some more reading, gathering and sorting. I was up on Sunday morning and in my study with a cup of coffee by 6 a.m. and did the final touches before going to the church office to belt out the power points. Apart from a few technical hitches, it went well. At 2 p.m. I had to lead a service at a rest home and knew that I could not just repeat what I had done at church... I had given some thought to alternatives and polished it up for an hour before fronting up to the chapel there. After that I came home and rang the funeral family to make a time to see them for Monday morning. Then I collapsed on my bed with a cup of tea. I had got there! There were times when I thought I would not get it all done or at least done well! But I was thankful, that looking back I could say I had done a good job, I had made it! I celebrated tonight with my quickest 9k run for a long time, even though there were very windy conditions. I will rest easy tonight. Tomorrow is meant to be my day off, but I begin on funeral preparations and ministering to the bereaved family. (I have never met them before) I have a few extras in the week ahead, but I am thankful that I go into it in good health. I made it this week! Looking back on the week I can say I did well. There were some significant, life enhancing things that I achieved, what more could I ask for? It was really a week well spent.
I liked this...
I am an old guy, but these days, as well as my books and commentaries, I do a lot of my reading and exploring of a subject or text on line. There are some good thinkers out there and lots of resources. (Lots of rubbish too!) Sometime, some where this week I found this. I read it and thought that is just what I have been thinking lately. I hope you find it helpful.

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church's mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about: we plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realising that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. .... - attributed to Oscar Romero 191

I liked it and found it thought provoking, inspiring and yet comforting. Off to bed now, I hope I sleep for hours!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thursday thumbnails...

Cook up...
Tonight is the Thursday night in the month when my wife goes to a women's tea. I go home via the supermarket. I generally buy some steak for tea and some specialty beer. I have a nice strong dark beer tonight. I cook my goodies up and enjoy my meal listening to either country music or old music... tonight is "Solid Gold Sixties". I have the house to myself so I can have the music loud.
North East Valley Church of Christ Table Tennis club.
I am listening to songs like "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" (Manfred Mann) "A whiter shade of pale" (Procol Harum) "To sir with Love" (Lulu) "Oh Pretty Woman" (Roy Orbison) etc. As I listened to them My mind went back to a Church hall in North East Valley. We had a youth group there. It all happened probably about 1962 -63 when my brother and I and a couple of mates (we were quite young teenagers) decided we would start a table tennis club in the church hall. My dad had told us if we wanted a club then we should stop griping and do something about it. He helped us get timber and knock up frames with hard board on (the balls never bounced really good on them) and buy or resurrect the cheapest nets we could get and bats with sand paper on them! (Good grief) He asked a distant relative who in his youth was a table tennis champion to come and teach us the game. So started the North East Valley Church of Christ Table Tennis club. There were to be no girls, just us guys on a Saturday night playing table tennis. Well that didn't last long and we had girls coming along. There was a hasty meeting of the church elders and a man was appointed to come to the club to chaperone the activities of the club. We branched out into various other games. We played Table Cricket.... a great game. We had various other social games which gave an excuse for the boys to have girls sitting on their knee. The club grew. Members from other denominations, and no denominations would come, it expanded till regularly our numbers each Saturday night went to around the 40's. We had supper each night, the minister would come in and take some sort of devotions and after that we would get out a little portable record player and play these songs. We sometimes jived a bit but mostly just listened, laughed, and sang. ... until the neighbours complained about the noise and the elders visited us to have a chat. (Compared to today's noises our little single speaker turntable and 45 RPM records made very little sound. ) We often gravitated together and wandered the neighbourhood as a gang after lunch on Sunday afternoon. There was an older lady who sometimes would make mouse traps and have us for Sunday evenings. (Mouse traps were bread with marmite and cheese on, toasted under a grill) When my Dad died in March 1964 one night between death and funeral this same lady invited the teen Brown kids for an evening and invited all our youth group mates and we just sat amongst our friends and felt their awkward love. None of them (like most adults for that matter) knew what to say, but they were there for us. It was special. This 60's music brings back the memories of that club. It was special.
Chaplaincy talks and calls.
This week I have not been feeling 100%. I have been fighting the flu but have never got bad enough to stop working. I can't tell you what the conversations and phone calls were all about but I have had heaps of "in-depth" conversations with people. I have felt that people have accepted me and seen me as someone they can talk with. I have come home each day exhausted and worked consistently from morning till dark, but it has felt worth while. That has been good for me, even though some of the stories I have listened to are sad and demand further follow up action. I have felt useful to real people, not just keeping an out of date institution alive. Long may this last.
Christmas Day dinner...
I have started to send out invitations for our Community Christmas Day dinner. Today I got news that Marlow Pies bakery company have agreed to cook our 26 legs of lamb again this year. That is always a relief to know. It will happen. I better get on with my work, it is 8:35p.m. and I have phone calls to make. Life is OK at the moment.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Beware, marriage could be dangerous to your health..

I am a chaplain to four workplaces and apart from a couple of years doing other stuff, have been working in church ministry since 1971. In that time I have listened to many people talk about their marriage, and their eventual marriage break up. I have often heard a whole lot of stories of sadness and hurt.

In my work the last few weeks have been sad that way and they prompt me to spout forth. People will tell of their final separation, and then will tell of all the events, ways of being and adventures that preceded this final decision or action. As people tell me about the nature of their relating and of how they live together, I often find myself aching for them. Each partner seems to be "killing" the other as a person. They end up relating or not relating in such a way that the inner spirit, the self-esteem, their confidence and their friendship is destroyed. What happens is the exact opposite of what marriage should be. Sometimes too they have lived for years in that soul destroying atmosphere. The feeling of failure as a person that people load on themselves, can be hard to bear and drain their soul.

We have warnings on cigarette packages warning that "smoking can be detrimental to your health." I have often stood before couples at a wedding and felt like giving a similar warning. When you commit yourself to another, it is a dangerous and risky business. It can be a healthy, life-giving and life enhancing relationship that you enjoy. But at the same time when you give your love to another you are risking your inner being. (Whether in marriage or not) You are making yourself vulnerable and that person can hurt you deeply and what was a life-giving relationship can end up being a soul destroying reality. This can get particularly complicated. There is a sense in which I would love to give this sort of warning to all who make this commitment! "It can be detrimental to your health". Maybe such a warning should be put on the marriage license you get before the ceremony?

One of my sons decided he would move in with his girl-friend. I turned up with my van to help him move his stuff. I began to say, "About this moving in with...." He jumped in before I finished my sentence. "I know its not what you and mum would have done, but what's right for you is not necessarily right for me!" he said strongly, thinking I was going to preach to him about the "morality" of it all. "No" I replied, "That's not my concern. It's your life and your decision, all I want to say is be careful you don't hurt each other. Always do your best to relate with respect to each other. Moving in together just opens up the potential for deeper hurt. Look after each other."

Let me say that as I have done my work, of listening as people have described how they are relating at home, I have often said to myself, "If that was happening in my marriage I would do my darndest to change things, or demand that we need to work on changing things."

Having said all this negative stuff about giving yourself to another, I would still advise people that the risk is worth it. If you don't risk, you will never know the intimacy, friendship and partnership that is possible. Even if you have been through a rough partnership, I would say, don't let it harden you to the possibilities that are there. It can be one of the most beautiful things in life's experiences. It is worth working at to keep a relationship functioning as it can. It is worth the risk of giving yourself to another. I love the words of the song, "The Rose". They are eternally true about life and relationships.

"The Rose"

Some say love, it is a river
that drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
that leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger,
an endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
and you its only seed.

It's the heart afraid of breaking
that never learns to dance.
It's the dream afraid of waking
that never takes the chance.
It's the one who won't be taken,
who cannot seem to give,
and the soul afraid of dyin'
that never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been to long,
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong,
just remember in the winter
far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed that with the sun's love
in the spring becomes the rose.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Colours of our patch

I spent some of the afternoon resting to try to get over my flu/cold whatever it is. But then decided I needed to do some gardening. Planted two more rows of potatoes. Endive and Chinese cabbage plants went in, some spring onion seeds and various types of turnip seeds. A few radish seeds also. I like radish, they are a great encouragement to an impatient gardener. In a few weeks you can eat them, there is no waiting months for the plant to be ready to harvest.

Wandering around our acre I could not help but notice the colourful displays at this time of the year. I thought I would snap a few just before our evening meal.

Hope in death...

In Church this morning I tackled a weird biblical passage in which Jesus argued with Sadducees about "the resurrection of the dead". I have some flu symptoms and feel a bit dead, so I thought I would share some thoughts on the subject.

Christianity is NOT about getting a ticket to heaven.
In spite of the hymn writers and the various evangelists, the main point of Christianity or following Jesus, is not to get to heaven when I die. If someone could prove to me that there was no life after death (or life after life) I would still follow Jesus. There has been a distortion that has led to people thinking that this is what faith is all about. I think it comes from a mistaken reading of two Biblical terms. They are "Eternal Life" and "Kingdom of God". Often in the past these have been read as the equivalent of "Heaven". "Eternal Life" is much more to do with a quality of life than a quantity of life. "Eternal" was often the way the ancients talked about God and so "eternal life" is a life that has a God-like quality about it. It is a life in the here and now that is infused with the character, ways and nature of God, the God of love. The "Kingdom of God" is a concept that Jesus told most of his parables about to try to communicate, so it is very multi-faceted. The Kingdom of God is not some heavenly place, but rather the movement or reign of God amongst us. Jesus at one place likens it to the mysterious life force that makes seeds grow into plants. Entering the Kingdom is something we do now, we allow this movement or life to change us, direct us and give us meaning. So the reason I follow Jesus is that he makes this life,(made up of ups and downs, of health and sickness, of all sorts of relationships) much more meaningful, more whole and more fulfilling. Life after death is not the goal.

What does my faith have to offer me in the face of death then? After all we will all die!

I will be still alive...
I am David Brown, a unique individual. But really in me there are so many other people. My father, a plumber, church man and one time soldier; my mother who was a hard working mum I loved, even though we often clashed over ideas and values; old Uncle Harry I used to garden with as a teenager; my grandmother, a Christian Women's Temperance enthusiast who would spin in her grave if she knew I was a chaplain to a brewery; Old Uncle George who I would roam around his sheep run with learning Banjo Patterson poetry; but before them too, Winston Churchill who was a childhood hero I read about; Rudyard Kipling whose stories I loved when read to us at cubs; the early pioneers who set the tone for the nature of our community in this beautiful country; there is a sense in which all these people, long dead are still alive in me, still expressing themselves, still impacting the world. As I looked at the Parliament Buildings in London I was deeply aware that much of the democracy, community ethos and law I take for granted was hammered out there. Those long dead parliamentarians are still impacting this world. When I die, and depart this world, I will still be alive impacting the world through the lives of those who have come after me, who have been influenced in some way by my lifestyle. I will be gone, but still alive... Following Jesus helps me make that impact better than I otherwise would.

The purposes for which I lived go on.
As I look at history I see the movement of God stimulating people toward love, justice, harmony and freedom. There is this ultimate cause, unseen spirit and ongoing journey in history, which possesses me and countless of others (christian and non-christian) down through history. I get to share in that journey on this earth for a certain length of time. I am motivated by it, I get the privilege of this movement working through me and expressing its "music" through my personality. At sometime I will "move off the dance floor" and rest in the wings, but the "music and dance" will still go on! When I do die and some poor parson has to run my funeral I have let it be known that one of the songs sung will be "Lord of the dance". The song pictures Jesus as "The Lord of the dance" and a couple of verses have these words...

"They buried my body and they thought I'd gone;
But I am the dance and I still go on... "

"They cut me down and I leap up high,
I am the life that will never, never die;
I'll live in you if you live in me;
I am the Lord of the dance said he..." (Sydney Carter)

My cars will rust out. My house will rot. My garden will turn to weeds. My diplomas will be thrown out. My furniture discarded. My money, such as it is, will be dispersed. My body which I try to keep in good shape, will go up in smoke. But the real purposes for which I live, the purposes of love, will "never, never die".

Mysterious relationship and partnership.
I speak of the purposes of God, the ways of God the values of God. But that is all "third person" stuff. There is a mysterious "knowing God" that is a reality in life. I don't know how to explain this. Just some instances of "relationship" that I can share.
- Once a longstanding and deep friendship I had broke down. There were angry words and where we once were close, we did not want to know each other. (There is a fine line between love and hate) I lay in bed night after night hurting, asking myself where had I gone wrong? I was feeling very low, my self esteem, confidence and inner resilience shot to pieces. "If this man who really knows me, hates me, I must be a bad person!" I concluded. One night as I tossed and turned, got out of bed and paced the floor, then returned to bed to stew some more; an "inner voice" came to me. "If you have made mistakes you are forgiven. If no one loves you, I still do. You can build your life again." That inner-voice came from ... "outside of me" but was a powerful, comforting and affirming presence that turned me around.
- I was to preach my final sermon at Palmerston North Church. After hours of study and preparation, I had a real beauty prepared. I climbed on my little "Nifty Fifty" motor bike to go around to the church which was not even a kilometre away. By the time I reached the Church building, the beautiful sermon I had prepared was thrown out, and a sermon I "must" preach had replaced it in my mind. How? Where did it come from? In preparation for funerals, weddings or other programmes there are often "bells that ring" that guide me to say and do things that turn out to be just right for the group I am leading.
- Insights in counselling situations; extra power to love with difficult people; encouragement when I most needed it; the "right words" in funerals and difficult circumstances; the ability to lead the chaplains and the wisdom emerging at the right moments last Friday; digs of conscience in the midst of temptation; a sense of understanding love and support in the confusion of life when I struggle with the right path and perhaps fail; the right people beside me to guide; inner affirmation when I have gone out on a limb; nudges toward changes in my values; "digs" toward growth... again and again there has been a loving "presence" making "himself" known to me and partnering me in life.
- Nearly throughout my whole time in ministry I have had a love/hate relationship with the church. I struggle with it's distortions and the baggage that it carries. I struggle with the expectations placed on me as a minister and the things church members see as important. I have tried to get out of ministry time and again. But this "presence" keeps "calling" me and won't let me do it!

It is impossible to describe, but there is in my life a mysterious "relationship" or "partnership" with the sacred, the eternal one, the one we call God. (Let me add that I am far from perfect and often a selfish, low minded git!) He is "there" in love, sometimes affirming, often challenging but always pushing toward the adventure of growth. (He keeps us young) When I think of my final departure, I cannot help but think that this relationship is stronger than death, and that as I go through that horizon, it will be into that "loving presence." While the western, modernist cynic in me tries to tell me that death is death, and my life will be finished; this relationship and love seem bigger, stronger and more real than the death I will inevitably face. I believe it will outlive (or perhaps "out love") what we call death. We really are important to the "eternal one".
The Apostle Paul wrote these words... "I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, .... nor anything else in God's whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Whatever happens to me in death, I think that presence will be there with me, that relationship and love is stronger than even death itself.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gee I was good... darn it!

I have come back to the church after leading most of a professional development day for workplace chaplains. The subject was debriefing and defusing after a critical incident. Toward the end of the day, as I sat and listened to the various groups doing role plays and as I reflected on the day I could not help but think..... "I was good! I am a good communicator." I can pick where people are coming from and generally make a connection. I can break abstract ideas down to a manageable level so that people can take them on board with a degree of confidence. I can listen, draw out discussion and dialogue well. I could have been better prepared today. Maybe if I was in sole charge of the day there may have been some things I would have done differently. But I think most, if not all chaplains went home feeling good about their day. - I was good at my job! My boss said I was "perfect".

As I prepared for the day and dialogued with the chaplains through the day I also realised that, "Gee I have heaps of accumulated wisdom and experience to draw on! When did I get to know so much?" The years of experience and of being forced out of my comfort zone have brought knowledge.

That makes it very difficult. I have wanted to run away from my job and work at a hardware store. I have worked in a hardware store before and enjoyed it and was good at it too. But have I the "right" to opt out? If I am good at communicating ... whether it be teaching, preaching, interacting, leading funerals and weddings etc. is it wrong to go sell tap washers, taps, baths, toilet cisterns etc. in a hardware store? Presently I must admit to barely coping with the responsibilities of ministry/chaplaincy. My stress levels are "up there" every week. It feels like it would be good to have a simpler job. But then, for "selfish ends", I would deplete the church and chaplaincy of a guy, good at his job? I know that no one is indispensable, but if I opt out I will let people down.

I was talking to some folk the other day about my options. I had said to them that I would let a lot of people down if I opted out. Their response was, "You have to look after yourself. You let yourself down if you don't look after yourself." They urged me to go explore the other simpler job. I thought about that for a while then replied, "Maybe for me, I will let myself down if I let other people down?" There is something very fulfilling about a day like today. I am tired, no - exhausted, and I still have heaps of work to do and the drop-in centre to attend. I put a lot of effort into preparation, it stretched my mind. But as I stewed on the day it was a deep thrill to be able to do it. -To encourage the chaplains. - To help give them tools to work with. - To help them go into their very difficult job with just a little bit more confidence. Will I let myself down, will I be wasting my "life force" if I opt out? Maybe if I went to sell tap washers I would be just as stressed because I won't be getting those deep fulfilling moments?

Being good at something is good, but it is also a pain in the butt. It means you have a greater responsibility to use that ability wisely and well. Bugger!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"How many deaths does it take till we..."

"The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind." So sang Peter, Paul and Mary many years ago, in a song protesting war. The same song could be sung about our abuse of alcohol. "How many deaths does it take..." ... I got distracted while I had a morning cup of coffee today and started browsing the internet news.

A woman was killed and another severely injured while stopping for a cup of coffee on the side of the road near Otaki. A drunken driver couldn't take a corner at speed and brought one lady's life to an end and untold sadness, pain and grief into many more lives. Accidents happen, but this in my book was needless murder.

In another incident a 21st party descended into a brawl "fueled by alcohol". A young 22 year old man is in a hospital in an induced coma with brain damage, the party a disaster and so much more unnecessary anguish brought into life.

In Nelson some drunk sailors off a NZ Navy ship terrorized a family home and had to be carted back to the ship by the police. In the space of a few days these were just some of the sad incidents that abuse of alcohol caused. If we were to list all the damage done last weekend, all the ruined nights, the upset lives, injuries and the disrupted relationships the list would be very long and very sad.

Legislators are trying to think how they can limit alcohol access or do something to curb this sort of abuse. I will often sit in conversations in work places where they talk and joke about social nights where they drank to excess. Often they staggered home the next morning to disrupt family life. It is all a big joke with excesses and sometimes the consequences being laughed about. But "how many deaths" (and other damage) "does it take till we" start taking real care about the way we party? I am not a tee total wowser, but I just think we need to start drinking responsibly. I had to take a funeral earlier in the year for a young man killed by a mixture of alcohol and drugs. His mother says the "pain will never go away".

We all think that such sad things won't happen to us, but they can, we increase the risks the more often we over indulge. Often too the sadnesses and impact are accumulated over a period of time and damage is done to people, relationships and to our own sense of well being.

I was "hit" today browsing the news items and reflecting on conversations in workplaces with the damage abuse of alcohol does in NZ communities. It is an immense problem and, apart from anything else, economically expensive. It is people's lives though, that are hurt, wasted and curtailed. I had to let off steam about this aspect of our culture. "The answer my friend is blowing in the wind." We individuals have to take action, enjoy life, but enjoy it responsibly.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday night tumblings...

You can't tell a book by its cover...
I have recently purchased a cheap car. It only cost $1000 and I am sure I will get my moneys worth out of it. It has quite a neat exterior with a reasonable paint job, no rust and no dents. When I drove into the yard at the fire station there were quite a few firefighters standing around. As I got out of the car they passed comments about my new transport. "Who is that? Is that Father Ted? It can't be, it's a tidy looking car?" "Have you borrowed that from someone?" "That's too neat a car for you to drive?" ... so the cheeky comments went. My cars have most often had a dent or two, they have had patches of rust and the paint job has been old and worn.

The thing is that I know that the motor in this car is tired. If I was to do a long trip I would still take my old, beat up looking Nissan. This car's motor is OK for running around town. But of all my cars in recent times, I think this motor might be the most worn. But because it looks neat, they think it must be more expensive, more reliable and a better vehicle. Give me Wanda my old Nissan Bluebird to drive, any day though her paint is flat and oxidized and there are damaged body parts.

As I drove out of the yard I could not help thinking that we are like that with people. We judge by the exterior looks. I have lived long enough to know that "Dress does not make the man." Some of the sleaziest, biggest bullies, least trustworthy guys I know wear fancy suits and always look neat. Some of the most straight up guys I know wear old jeans. Some of the aesthetically ugly people I know turn out to be the most understanding, generous and genuine people. I know some "beautiful" people who are also beautiful inside, but I know lots of "beautiful" people I certainly would not trust as far as I could throw them. I know a guy in Australia. His house looks a dump. It is messy inside and out. He dresses in untidy looking gear. He is unkempt, hair never tidy, he speaks roughly and his straight up abrupt manner can put you off. He is self employed which is good because if he turned up to be interviewed for a job I am sure his immediate looks would put a boss off. But he is a successful businessman and I have seldom met a kinder, more genuine and more generous guy. You just cannot tell a book by its cover. I once saw a boss looking through something like 2 - 300 applications for a receptionists job. They had sent photos as part of the application and he was rushing through them looking at their photos, chucking the ones he judged were no good. I was astounded, but he said, "How else am I expected to get through so many and sort out a short list to read in depth?" To be fair he was not just picking the sexy looking ones. He was looking for a pleasant looking disposition in the picture. The lady he finally selected is no beauty queen but delightful in the role. But, I thought, others could have been brilliant too but lost out because of a "bad hair day" or bad lighting when the photo was taken or a split second change of their facial features. My point is, with cars and people, do not jump to conclusions from first appearances.
An athletic goal?
I realise that I am getting reasonably fit and mentioned this last blog. Each week I am improving in my running and, apart from the usual soreness that comes from working muscles beyond their comfort zone, I have (touch wood) been injury free. I suddenly twigged tonight that the NZ Masters Games is being held in Wanganui on February 4th - 13th. The half-marathon is to be on the 13th. We intend to be in the North Island then, a son has bought us air tickets to be there. Maybe I could aim to do the half-marathon? Watch this space!
Too late mate...
Another thing that I stewed on today. In my job as a chaplain and community minded minister I often get drawn into supporting people either in workplaces or family life, where relationships have become dysfunctional. Most often as I get involved (though thankfully I get to refer most) I get to thinking - "this is too late". They should have been dealing with this years ago! Why didn't they go see a counsellor or at least talk through these issues when they first began? Sometimes we just bury our heads and hope the problem will go away. It takes courage to stop and deal to it. I know I have done that in Churches and in other organisations and relationships I have been in. So to younger people, I encourage you to deal with issues when they are mole hills. When they become mountains, it is often too late mate. The damage has been too great.