I have a friend who keeps telling me that I am like a roller coaster. Sometimes I am up and sometimes I am down. I am finding as I head toward retirement the current frustrations combine with past frustrations and I can go down pretty quickly.
A serendipity experience... On Tuesday I arrived at the fire station and was talking to various people in the yard. I saw a young lady come in and wander through the outside firefighters looking for somebody she recognised. She walked past me and into the "mess". (eating place at the fire station) Most of the firefighters were in there having afternoon tea. After I finished a conversation I too walked into the room. "Here is the man who can help you." they declared to this woman, "Divine help - help from above!" "What's up?" I said. "Have you got jump leads?" they asked - "Yes" I replied though a firefighter offered hers and went to get them. "Can you take this lady to her car across in the railway car park and help her start it?" "Of course!" I replied realising that while they were willing to help it probably was not permissible. So this young lady and I climbed into the car and we drove off to her van, popped the bonnets, connected the batteries and not without some hassles managed to get her engine started. As we were closing bonnets and rolling up the jump leads she asked me, "What is your role in the fire service?" "Oh I'm their chaplain." I said. "Really!" she exclaimed, "Thanks for helping me! It is so good to meet you. I am 'X's daughter. I have heard a lot about you." ("X" is a long serving firefighter I admire.) Then she went on, "Actually you have helped me before, probably lots of times. - I know once I was having problems and dad asked you about them and you gave him great advice." We chatted warmly about her dad and somewhere she commented, "I helped dad and the guys paint your house while you were overseas." I felt warmed... My ministry was fondly remembered and had impacted this woman's life who I had never even met! Pretty cool.
Frustrating committees... Why is it that on every committee I have been on people love to hear them selves pontificating? Often too discussion seems to go around in circles, and you revisit things you thought you had dealt with? Why is it that people promise to do things and don't get around to it? Everything takes so long! This week I have felt extremely frustrated almost to the point of pulling the pin on my involvement on a committee. I go to bed at night and wake up in the early hours stewing about the way ahead and how I can help progress. I rise in the morning exhausted.
I am a racist... There is a guy who comes to our drop-in centre who has some mental health issues. He gets paranoid about another guy who attends and wants me to ban him. I refuse and told him to just stay clear of him if his presence annoys him. "Don't sit near him. Don't talk to him, just let him alone." As far as I could see this other guy was completely oblivious to the issue and while he may have in the past had words with him, now really just ignores him. Well the paranoid guy rang up the other day and called me a "racist". (He is Maori) He told me I ran a racist drop-in centre and that he had told everybody in town that. (I found out later that indeed there were people in other churches he had told.) His basis was that I had told him to stay clear of this other guy. He said he had informed other agencies and they were going to investigate further. He ranted on that he had told some of his "bro's" and they were going to "deal to me". He was going to close me down, he said, then hung up. I carried on with what I was doing and about a quarter of an hour later I got another phone call. He told me I should think about resigning before I got fired. He was going to "defrock me" and had talked to people about it. Once again he abruptly hung up. He also left a nasty message on my home phone. Now usually when he is in one of these moods I shrug it off and eventually he comes right. This time, in the midst of my other frustrations and my health concerns it got to me. He is lucky he never rang up again because I was deeply hurt and angry. Over the years I have stuck by this guy, assisted him and been patient with him. "Why the hell should I have to put up with this crap!" I growled. I know he's sick and I am through it now but it really annoyed me and was a downer in my week.
Tonight's nice moments... We had our drop-in centre tonight. I share some warm fuzzies. There was a new lady there and I passed by the counter where they make their hot drinks. A regular guy introduced me to this new lady. "This is Dave.. he belongs to this church... he .. um ... he does the dishes around here." he said with a big grin. Another quiet young man who has been coming came up to me and asked about the church. Then he said, "Thank you so much." He rubbed his tummy, "That was great. Its the first time I have been full all week!" I was up looking at the TV and I saw a bag with knuckle bones in them. I sat on the floor and started playing. This young girl who comes from a pretty sad family situation, came over and said, "Can I play? You teach me!" So she and I for quite some time played knuckle bones together. Another tough nut was waiting to play pool. "Oh knuckle bones!" he said, "I used to be good at those!" so pretty soon he was down on the floor playing with us. So cool.
A roller-coaster indeed.