Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, April 1, 2012

No work today....

 A fine Friday filled by people
I went into my office on Friday morning and had plans to make sure I completed the Church Newsletter before the weekend, and to look further into appropriate prayers, meditations and reflections for Sunday. Let me tell you none of that happened. My day was filled with people.
 I was still dealing with overnight emails when a friend visited and we went down to the nearby Starbucks for coffee.

Returning to the Church I discovered a man from Iraq was visiting Space2B again and we sat and chatted. I learn so much from him. My life experience expands as he tells me about his experiences. (He told of the devastation, the tragedy and destruction of war. He told how later he was forced to leave behind everything and flee the country. – I could not help but compare his experiences with the gripes I sometimes hear in the workplaces I visit… I often feel like telling people, “Come back when you have real trouble!”)

My office phone interrupted and I had to leave the conversation to deal with that. I received a text from a woman who voluntarily cleans our Drop-in centre. She runs sustainability classes in our building and sees cleaning our drop-in as one way she can contribute to our church life. She had done her weekly clean and I caught up with her as she was leaving. A very intelligent Irish woman with great insights into life and a sense of humour, she is always terrific to chat with.

I returned to Space2B and discovered the lunchtime group was arriving.  “Ben” said his week hadn’t been too good and we chatted about that. Others shared about life in general. From there I took my lunch to St John Ambulance and caught up with people there, some facing changes. I talked with people giving up their Easter leisure so that St John’s can serve people at the Wanaka Air show.

Back in my office an architect friend arrived. We had worked together in Habitat for Humanity for many years and now he was helping me with something for the Night Shelter. After our business was attended to we chatted about life, growing old, and Habitat for Humanity issues.

“Fred”, an ex-drop-in centre regular, interrupted us.  He burst into my office with his little dog. “Daaave! How the f…. are you? Haven’t seen you for ages!” he exclaimed in a loud voice. I was pleased to see him because I had been worried about him. He is very intelligent, but socially abrasive, he and I have a longstanding friendship. My architect friend probably wondered what he had struck and excused himself and left Fred and I to catch up. I was meant to be down at the fire stations so after chatting I took Fred part way home (they don’t let him on the buses with his little dog) and I drove to the central fire station.

At the fire station I “helped” a crew pack up an emergency shower tent they were practising with. After chatting with various guys I went on to visit other stations. I am intrigued and pleased by the good-humoured warmth I receive. I was back at the church by about 6 p.m. and at 6:30 opened the doors to the drop-in centre.

During the three hours of Drop-in I played pool, endless rallies of table tennis but also had serious supportive conversations. Grief, anger management, budgeting and health issues all featured. At about 10:30, after I had run Robbie home, I packed up and drove home. The newsletter was still a blank page on my computer screen and no more service prep was done. 

People and conversation had squeezed “work” out of my day, but in the end I thought it was a fine fulfilling Friday. I think the relationships I enjoyed that day were worthwhile encounters. I do believe that somehow mysteriously the sacred is in the encounter. People talking in a loving way with others will change the world. A fine Friday.

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