Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A "normal" week.

This is the first time in three weeks that I have not had to slot a funeral into my week. In that way it has been a normal week.
Loss of focus...
I think because of the pace of my lifestyle lately this week I have found I have been slack... not as motivated. I guess there are always times you take the foot off the accelerator. It is also evident that I am really looking forward to retirement. I suspect a trigger to this feeling is that the leadership here met the other night to look into future ministry and I guess that has made the finishing of my career seem closer. (though it is still seven long months away)

The Good and bad of my week.

  • I actually had a day off on Monday. After saying goodbye to our son and family, we went "window shopping" looking at the prices of vehicles. I chopped fire wood and then had an enjoyable run (jog) in the evening.
  • On Tuesday one of my duties was to visit fire stations. A fire fighter is very ill in hospital. One fire crew had been involved in assisting at an attempted suicide. I so often come away from my fire station visits with a feeling of warmth, having been among friends. After finishing I went to the Night Shelter to install a new toilet seat. While there I encountered a couple I knew who had been sleeping in their car! I get cold in a warmish house in a warm bed. I cannot imagine sleeping in a car in Dunedin in the winter! In returning to the office I had short warm conversations with people using the church halls. I came home to learn that a Habitat for Humanity affiliate was hassling a house owner for oil drips on the asphalt on the drive! - I wanted to scream... "Get a life! Find something truly important to worry about!" 
  • On Wednesday I went to my doctors. We are good mates and our conversations are often warm, friendly and affirming. He gave me good reports on blood pressure issues, and genuine concern and support about my "plumbing issues". At lunch time I enjoyed more conversation with people attending Space2B... I enjoy this part of our church life. Friendships are part of the guts of life and it is a privilege to sit and eat my sandwiches with a group of friends.While there I received a visit from a St John team leader who delivered a generous gift of money. They knew that I had taken their colleagues funeral in Gore for nothing. They had taken "the hat around" to help with funeral expenses and had decided that I should receive this gift. "You helped a mate of ours. We appreciate that and we want to help you." he explained. Worth more than the gift of money, (though I think the gift was an expression of it) was the affirmation that I had done a good job, "as you always do." "It was well done and we appreciate it." In my years I have learned that if you give freely and generously of your time, resources and talent, often you will get ripped off, but also the "God of love who is the creative energy everywhere and in everything" is at work, and there are people through whom he responds in love and generosity. I wish Christians, churches, Habitat for Humanity, people and myself would truly trust that love that goes around, and live more generously and freely, instead of always wanting their "pound of flesh" and counting "who owes who what" and "who is deserving and who isn't." St Francis in his prayer was right, "It is in giving that we receive." Selfishness brings its superficial rewards, but the rewards of giving are deep, profound and life-giving.
  • On Thursday I walked the few blocks to the brewery and encountered some of the vulnerable people of our city who greeted me as I went by. I saw again this homeless couple and we talked about their situation. In the afternoon I talked with a reporter who is doing an article on homelessness in Dunedin. The issues are big. Homelessness is a symptom of other problems that run deep in our societies values. I felt frustrated that he will be limited in his discussion of it by "word counts" and the newspaper's political sensitivities. I picked up my wife from her "Friends of the Emergency Department" volunteer work. She told me that one of her jobs that afternoon was to sit with an elderly lady who was dying and who eventually died. She talked about how she handled that. "I will have to brush up on the words of the 23rd Psalm!" she commented. She offered the comfort of familiar words of faith, loving physical touch and human presence as this lady completed her time among us. I was full of admiration for her work, she is a rock to so many people.
  • Today I am looking to do more work on Sunday's service. What can I say that is different that I have not already said in the last 25+ years? What will make a difference? 

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