Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Monday, March 2, 2015

Personal, positive, pietistic, progeny, political and playing.

Dunedin from Flagstaff Hill. I climbed it on Sunday. 
Looking from Flagstaff to my usual climb, Mount Cargill.
Parents are awesome. So my Edinburgh son said on facebook.
They often win, but lately we won the rugby, rugby league, our Breakers team is winning basketball and now the cricket - for now. 
I am not sure why, it just happens, but for the last week or so I have felt depressed.  Of course you keep going doing the same old things, but you feel numb about life. My wife asked me, as wives do, "Do you love me?" My answer was, "I don't love anything at the moment, I feel just dead, going through the motions. I don't feel really passionate about anything."  I'm not looking forward to anything and life seems hollow. It just happens from time to time. I keep doing and eventually hit my straps again, but it helps me to understand those who for no apparent reason, even when life is good, just get depressed. Part of mine (I suspect) is that while I am retired, because of Night Shelter issues and responsibilities, I still feel like I am under pressure, still have a schedule and feel like I cannot enjoy free time to do stuff I looked forward to in my retirement. There is uncertainty of funding too which feels scary and there seems to be no foreseeable end to it all. There are always issues. But depression does not need a cause, it just happens for some, and I think I am emerging out of that now. 
Having said that, I was climbing my mountain the other day and it felt good. After I returned home from overseas last year, for some months I felt like I was under the weather, and my doctor did not seem to respond to my concerns. I got wheezy easily. I tired very easily. I lacked energy. But this year I feel like I am back to health. I am grateful for that.  It has made me realise that I was not just imagining my troubles. Physically from August through to early December I was below par. Now I am more like my healthy self and I am pleased. 
We have signed on to go to a series of discussions at the local Quaker meeting place. They start in a couple of weeks and are a part of the Quakers seeking new members. (We get so frustrated with the preachers at the local presbyterian church though enjoy the people.) The first study relates to "Who or what is God" which sounds interesting. I have been rereading an anthology of Albert Schweitzer writings. Essentially it is a lot of his paragraphs covering various topics from Schweitzer's writings. I notice that he almost uses the phrase "Ethical Will" as interchangeable for the word "God". I like that. God is that inner voice, spirit, force that leads me to live responsibly, have compassion and act on that compassion. I gave a talk about the Night Shelter to a group of mature people the other day. One perceptive lady asked, "Do you ever get down hearted and want to give it all up?" I was confused or searching for a response. In all honesty I had to answer "Yes - I do get downhearted about it. Keeping money coming in and raising the money to buy is hard. Sometimes some of our clients deserve to be homeless. I do get frustrated and want to give up." She came back and said, "I guess your faith helps you?" (It was a secular group so I was surprised by the question.) I answered that "It is like I have tried to get out of Church ministry for forty years, but 'something won't let me' - It is the same with the Night Shelter, I can't chuck it in - at least not yet." That I think is Schweitzer's "Ethical Will" or "God".  It is that inner voice that prompts you to respond to need. I will let you know how we get on at the Quakers.
I keep in touch with my children on facebook. I know some people look down their noses at facebook, as if only plebs and mindless people imbibe.  With family spread all over the place, I find it a great way to stay in touch. My son in Edinburgh put a photo on facebook of my wife and I when we were in Edinburgh and wrote a sentence about how I helped him with DIY stuff. Then he said, "Parents are awesome!" and had a "feeling blessed" symbol attached. I felt pleased. My other son from Auckland rang last night and talked with me. He chatted about life, work, family and future plans. You go through tough times as a person, a parent and a parson. Teenagers go through times when they do not want to talk to Dads. It is so nice that as adults they feel free to think Dad is OK after all. If you are struggling as a teenager's parent, take heart, things can change in time.
I am sad because the New Zealand Prime Minister has decided to send troops to Iraq. I am sad because it was not a decision of Parliament. It seems wrong that he makes a decision to involve us in war and does not have to debate it among the democratically elected leaders.  In this case some of his normal allies were against him. I am also sad at his reasons. "Part of belonging to the club" he said.  I hate that we are being dragged along by superpowers, we lose our important independence through which we have and can give a positive voice for good in the world. I dislike the superficial arguments being put forward and the lack of any real deep thought.  I also believe it is the West's interference over the last century or so that have contributed to the mess in the Middle East. I believe that further military involvement can only mean more mess. Is there some way the nations concerned can block the flow of ammunition, arms and provisions to ISIS? An army can't fight if it is being starved of supplies. Somebody must be selling arms to them?  Anyway I am sad that once again our troops go into war, and a war that I suspect cannot be won.... certainly not easily. 
Playing with the neighbours.
There is the Cricket World Cup being hosted by Australia and New Zealand. It is exciting, but on Saturday it was ultra exciting. Australia is the cricketing superpower and they were confident of beating the New Zealand team in a fifty over game on Saturday. The New Zealand team has been playing well, but in the prematch banter the Australian commentators and players seemed to fob off any suggestion that NZ could win. But New Zealand did win... though it ended up a very tight game. When the winning runs were hit the crowd of forty thousand went wild, not to mention thousands, perhaps millions more watching and listening.  Any time we beat our cocky, abrasive sounding neighbours makes New Zealanders ecstatic.   

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