Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Carrying the cost...

I did get to climb my mountain just before dark last night. Love the cloud formations.

Latest pic of our Grand daughter. I texted a Happy Father's day text to my son... His first Father's Day.
"Different" people
The nature of my inner-city ministry involves me relating to a lot of "different" people. They are different in a variety of ways. Many have mental health issues. Some are just different and don't fit into society. Some have different values, different ways of looking at the world or different ways of relating.   I have learned that to relate to these people you have to be very tolerant. You sometimes need to listen to ranting on the same topic over and over again. Sometimes you have to cope with illogical conversations and discussions. Sometimes they can be very paranoid. It saps your energy.
We have a group who come into Space2B and I try to greet them warmly and catch up on their lives. Sometimes when they are mixing with "normal" people who you want to have a good conversation with it can be extremely frustrating. At times they will require help, a "loan" of money, ( e.g. We gave away one hundred dollars worth of vouchers on Friday night.... these had been given to me by various people in appreciation for stuff I had done... funny how the resources you need come.) or assistance to move or other bits and pieces. But at times you can get tired of it all.
On Friday evening at our drop-in centre we have a whole heap of "different" people. One of our goals is to meet them as friends, treat them with respect and love, and be a support to them. I was playing table tennis with one guy who can be frustrating. There were two different people further down the hall prattling at one another. They were winding each other up and it was building in volume and intensity. On a couple of occasions I stepped forward and glared, expressing my disapproval. They paused but when I resumed table tennis continued. It is so annoying this ongoing prattle, and it is not very good in a room full of people, many of whom have mental health issues. They need a happy, "safe" place, not an ongoing inane argument going on in the background. It continued. I glared. In the end I stepped over to them, pointed to one, and firmly, quite loudly said his name, "Fred! - Shut up!" I glared at the second one who was winding Fred up, "You!" I said firmly, "Be quiet and leave him alone!" Then I rather selfishly added, "I have had a guts full!" It was not the most controlled and sane response, but was indicative my weariness perhaps exasperated by my health issues. Immediately there was absolute silence in the whole room. About 40 pairs of eyes were on me, quite shocked at my angry sounding display. I went back and continued playing table tennis. I was chatting with a man later and he said, "You gave me a fright! I've never seen you like that before." It worked though. The pair stopped their prattle and sat ignoring each other, and people resumed their games and conversation. The woman involved came over to me to waffle, it was her way of trying to "make up" and charm me. She is an attractive addict and alcoholic and I had dealt with a situation during the week where she had used and abused a guy. She is a woman in her thirties, was a bit tanked up on booze and earlier in the evening had been trying to get stuff out of us, but had moved on to charming some of the guys into helping her.  Now she was trying to charm me, but I was not buying it. I ignored her prattle, eyeballed her and said, "You! - Next time you see Sally Baker (not her real name but a notorious 50-60 year old town drunk - often smelly, drunk and pitiful) you take a real good look at her!" "Why?" she demanded. "You take a good look at her because that's where you are headed with your life!" She spluttered and looked shocked. "Noooo! Not me!" "Yes you... that's where I see you headed if you don't do something about it!" ... silence ... then "No!" and she shuffled off. I hope she thinks about it some more.
Both yesterday and after church today I had dealings with more "different" people. These were happy peaceful encounters, but none the less requiring tolerance and a willingness to cope with the difference.  As we drove away for a late lunch, having delivered emergency food to one person, I said to my wife, "I've had enough! It is sometimes exhausting." Then in reflective mood I said, "We have to carry some of the burden of these people's difference, don't we? They don't fit easily into our society, we help support, but we experience some of their pain too." I think that's the lifestyle Jesus lived and he calls us to. If enough people do it, each carries less of the burden.
The week ahead
I hope to have a good day off tomorrow, Monday. I need to do some work for the Night Shelter but mostly I can do some work around home.
On Tuesday I get to visit a prison. We are going to talk with rehab staff members about Phoenix Lodge, the transitional "hand up" accommodation we have at the night shelter. It will be interesting. I will do some chaplaincy visits as well.
On Wednesday at morning tea, though it falls between the two, I will celebrate Father's day and my birthday with my family - it is the only opportunity we have in the week.  In the afternoon I join with Workplace Chaplains from Otago-Southland for a three-day retreat. (Because of my current health difficulties I will not be living in.)
On Thursday I take time out from the retreat, to record a radio-church service. I have arranged for the CEO of chaplaincy and the Deputy Chief of the local Fire Service to join me. Our theme is the work of work-place chaplains.
On Friday the retreat finishes. I have to fit in my normal chaplaincies, my normal Church activities and stuff for the night shelter.  It will be a busy week, this week that I turn 64.
I will be 64! When did that happen? Good grief I am old!
Father's Day - today.
I have had texts from two of my boys. I had a phone call from my son in Edinburgh. I had a nice card from my daughter and son-in-law. It read; "We hope you have a great day and know how much we appreciate who you are and what you do!" That helped to make my Father's day.

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