Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

If you can talk with crowds... or walk with Kings...

Me speaking during the opening. "You are here because you believe we belong together in the journey of life."
Part of the crowd gathered for the opening.
The MC (A city councillor) introduced me by saying; "Chairman of the Night Shelter Trust and all round legend." (A bit over the top)
Me with one of the visiting fire crews.
Matt one of the student organisers. We threw cheek at one another during the whole event.
Part of the crowd watching the entertainment.
Some actually slept out.
The Cathedral and the town hall.
The Sleep-out experience again...Photos.

Last post I told you about our sleep-out in the centre of town. I "slept out" with 200 students to raise funds and awareness for the Night Shelter. It was a great experience and the student organisers did so well. So far $11,177 has been raised.
As I have still basked in the experience I got to thinking about the conversations and interactions I had. Here are a few..
  • I helped set up with the students. Here were young men and women about one third my age setting up the area, and I was working with them. They were giving me cheek and I was returning it. We were enjoying each other's company, and that continued through to the clean up next day. 
  • During the set up and during the evening people from our old drop-in centre called by. Some had mental or intellectual disabilities and were inappropriate in the things they said. A couple were at various stages of intoxication and/or spaced out on weed. Others were the poor vulnerable members of our society. They greeted me warmly. Some just hung around, got free food and sometimes assisted me with things. 
  • During the night the Ambulance guys on duty called in and stayed around conversing. Then there were fire crews who called in and checked us all out.
  • The university chaplain visited, I have known him a long time. A catholic Priest I have known for perhaps 26 years who also does chaplaincy at the University called in and chatted. Some members of my old congregation called in and we caught up.  My counsellor/supervisor came with a bag of sweets and chocolates and gave me a hug. 
  • The national co-leader of the Green Party was there. I chatted frequently and warmly with the local member of parliament. City councillors were there and warmly conversed with me. The city mayor was there for a while and at one stage I was wanting to attract his attention and I simply called out, "Dave!" He turned and we chatted warmly. We had a few conversations just like two friends do, chatting with ease. 
During the night I shared with the high flyers of our society, the religious, the young, the emergency workers, and the lowly vulnerable members at the bottom of the heap. As I have thought about the experience and relived it through photographs, I could not help but recall lines from a Rudyard Kipling poem that my father liked; 
"If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, 
or walk with kings - nor lose your common touch.
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much,
........ you'll be a man my son."  

My dad fulfilled those lines in the way he related to people across the board. I guess I experienced a part of that over Friday evening. 

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