Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Monday, December 2, 2013


Seen on my Sunday walk. The Koru (beginnings of a fern leaf unfolding) It is a symbol of new life and potential.

It is over a week since I posted and I need to let off steam.... While I have my lunch time coffee I will post... 
Saying "Yes" or "No"
While I was doing my chaplaincy at the brewery last week my phone rang.  It was somebody from the St John organisation where I do a voluntary chaplaincy wanting to extend my responsibilities further.  I gave a vague "I'll have to think about it" answer. I am not sure what lies ahead in retirement therefore am hesitant to commit the time involved.  When I told others about this phone call they responded with, "I hope you said 'no'!"  On Friday I bumped into one of my firefighters and he asked, "What are you going to do in retirement?" as so many people do. He then went on to say, "You will have to learn to say 'no' to everything! Just look after yourself from now on." I hesitated and said, "Nah - I won't be saying 'no'. Where would my life be if I said 'no' to everything? Imagine all the experiences I would have missed out on if I had said 'no' all the time?" I am convinced that Jesus was right. A life lived for itself is lost.  It is when you lose yourself that you find life. Life is enriched by unselfish living. If when I retire I revert to selfish living I will be miserable!
Dunedin Night Shelter Trust AGM
Last Thursday I chaired the Annual General Meeting of the Dunedin Night Shelter Trust.  I spent well over a day in hours preparing and printing reports. I hate this sort of administrative stuff, but I did it and I survived. When it came to the election of officers I was re-elected as chairman again. I wished there was an alternative, I think I am better at background helping and supporting.  Maybe next year I will convince some one else to stand. The work for the Trust is voluntary, but it consumes a lot of my thought and energy lately. I was met by our manager this morning, he wanted a thorny HR question sorted out. It is exciting and worthwhile, often out of my comfort zone, but it also is very time consuming. 
Why I am still a follower..
This was my theme for Sunday's service. My answer in brief was;

  1. Jesus' principles for life make sense still.
  2. Following him empowers and enables me to be a more noble person.
  3. Following him enables me to prioritise in life, see what is ultimately important and sense the sacred in my living.
Confidence.... yeah right.
I know and admire a woman who is well educated (PhD) a militant alternative life styler, attractive and just about always in good spirits, with a keen sense of humour. I enjoy her company and we have a warm friendship. She confidently runs programs and courses and looks every bit the "together-self confident-spirited" woman. I bumped into her a few weeks ago, just after her birthday, and I joked with her as I often do. This time I noticed she did not laugh as much as normal, and after my joking headed off abruptly. I received a text later apologising for her departure and looking back on our brief conversation I realised that as she left she was barely holding it together. She was, in essence, like an insecure little girl, feeling alone and easily threatened. I wonder how many of us are like that and do not want others to know? We hide behind humour, a mock confidence, or dogmatism, activity or anything to avoid just letting others know that we are scared, isolated or whatever. 
I thought of this yesterday when the same lady phoned me to ask me to dispatch a sick hen she had, and could I teach her how to do it?  I went up to do it, but I suddenly felt unsure myself. I have killed countless hens, but never with an attentive audience! What if it went wrong? What if I have forgotten how?  What if I made a fool of myself?  We all have our insecurities we try to hide, it would be much better if we shared our uncertainties and admitted that we are all on a unrehearsed journey together. 
Taking a life...
I killed this hen. She was sick and never likely to get over it. It really was a kindness. I held her legs, gently but firmly, cradled her head in the palm of my other hand (she was as placid as) and I reluctantly stretched her neck, with a controlled gentle but definite jerk of my arm. I held her gently as her life drained out of her then reverently laid her in the hole dug for the purpose. She had lived. She had given food, company and added colour to life, now she was dead. She was once a colleague on the journey of life, and I decided it was over for her.  It is a "spiritual" experience raising all sorts of questions and thoughts. All meat eaters should at some stage have to kill the meat they eat. We would say grace with much more meaning! 
I thought it funny that when you want your chook put down, you think of the minister you know to do the job. "Dispatching a hen 101" maybe an essential course in theological colleges. She had phoned me saying, "I thought you would be the type of guy who would know how to do that." What a weird reputation I have!
A grandfather again...
On Sunday my son in Edinburgh and his Polish wife had their first child. My son is Maori/Samoan, he is adopted, but every bit as much "my son".  It is times like this that this is unmistakably reinforced for me.  I was walking my mountain when my wife texted me the news. I put my walking stick down to respond, then, quite distracted by the news, walked off leaving it behind. I was quite away down the track when I noticed it missing, and had to retrace my steps to retrieve it. I really, really would love to be in Edinburgh NOW! I love my kids, and their kids.  Welcome to the world Leon Tamati Brown, God bless little fella.

1 comment:

Linda Myers said...

It's all about saying "yes", even in retirement. Who am I to say no? It's all a gift.

I'd like to learn how to to that to a chicken.

And congratulations on the grandson!