I have been talking to groups about the Night Shelter and I am becoming convinced that most people do not see the vulnerable people around town. I have a lot of contact, perhaps too much for balance, but I get the feeling among the people I talk to, they think everything is rosy in NZ society. I had a man, who had been a parliamentarian, say to me, "Why do we need a Night Shelter? There's all these social welfare programs looking after them?" I recall talking to a church group and discovered they were really not aware of the type of people we have at our drop-in centre. I find myself thinking, "Do these people go around with their eyes shut?" It isn't that, it is just the circles they live and mix in. I am happily unaware of needs in my neighbourhood, maybe even next door and certainly of desperate needs overseas. I recall talking with two Indian couples about the film "Slum Dog Millionaire". One couple was disgusted with the portrayal of the slums in India. "There are no slums like that!" they declared strongly. The other couple said just as strongly, "Yes there is!" They said to me privately later that the difference was in where each couple had lived. "They would not have seen the slums if they had stayed in their type of neighbourhood." they commented. My firefighters attended a fire in a local boarding house, certainly not the worst in town. One man said to me, "It opened my eyes! Goodness gracious what an existence!" So in my talks about the Night Shelter now I spend time talking about the vulnerable people in our midst. This news video opened my eyes a little wider about the needs of children in some neighbourhoods. The friend who put this on face book asked the question, "How much did we spend on the Americas cup boat race?"
A friend responded to a flippant comment I made in an email about my retirement. We then got into an email conversation about my impending retirement while we were both working at our computers. My friend told of one of his mates who went on a retreat to think about what he was going to do with the rest of his life. I responded with the comment below. I thought I would share it with you so I cut and paste it below....
I am not going to rock in a rocking chair... I have some restless dreams bubbling away... but I think I need to stop awhile, catch up on some family things, and then let things evolve.
At the Rotary group the other night and at St John Ambulance - they are groups who are asking the question “How can we serve?” The Church sits and asks “How can we survive?” “How can we worship?” Bums on pews type thinking. – I think the “How can we serve?” question is more the way Jesus would have “his group” thinking. .... exploring a new form of “following Jesus” keeps emerging in my mind. ..linked with the Charter for Compassion... . and will not go away... In the “freedom” of retirement I may see where that leads???? There’s an Aussie guy who has written two books ... “Not religion but love” and “Christi-anarchy” who has an informal group of Jesus followers (different denominations) - they call themselves “The waiters Union” who look for ways to serve with and in the community.
I think the line in the hymn... “Make me a captive Lord, and then I shall be free.” is true...... you die as a person if you have no under-girding bigger meaning or purpose. ... or at least you allow yourself to get captured by trivia... so I will not be doing nothing or just living for myself...it is a self-defeating lifestyle. Just thinking out loud.
I repeat - Just thinking out loud.