|My son with the completed garden area.|
|The Students were amazing... this one incredible.|
|Hand in pocket is bad form. "David, you were so wonderful to listen to." someone said. |
|Our foster daughter's (with Retts syndrome) art.|
|She had an exhibition on Saturday.|
|She looked resplendent.|
Last Friday we drove the 5 hours north to Christchurch to attend the funeral of a retired minister who was thirteen years older than me. I first met this man when he was a theology student and helping to run an after-school children's happy hour in my Childhood Church hall. He had three ministries then went into a management position in another denomination's Social Work organisation. He had been very supportive to my sister during a tough time in her life and they were close friends, so we felt we should go to the funeral. So we said "Goodbye" to a member of an older generation.
We then drove to a different part of Christchurch and stayed for Saturday and Sunday at my son's new house, with him, his wife and their two and a half year old son. My son and I worked on building a fence around an area in the back yard then digging a vegetable garden in the enclosure. I enjoy working with him, we tease each other, but work well together. So I worked with "the current generation". While there I read to and played with my grandson and their young dog - "the next generation."
One year older..
On the Sunday I celebrated my birthday, another year older. Now when people hear my age they will round it up to "Oh - he's a seventy year old!"
While in Christchurch I received information about a positive development in our Night Shelter fundraising campaign to purchase our buildings. We drove home on the Monday to a busy week, chaplaincies, a funding application, a monthly Night Shelter Trust meeting and I was invited to say something at a gathering of university student volunteers and hand out certificates.
The younger generation.
It was rather short notice, but I discovered that I was billed as "the guest speaker." I went along and present were a whole lot of students who had volunteered for various agencies, some community representatives and people from agencies who had used student volunteers. Some of the students were those who ran the Night Shelter Sleep-out we enjoyed in town. I was duly introduced and spoke to the assembled group (feedback suggested I was good) then presented certificates to students who had excelled in voluntary contributions. As their achievements were read out I was really impressed with their work, they were impressive young people.
The final part of my talk went like this. I told of the perspective on history that NZ writer and historian Michael King passed on though it was not original to him. He said history is like a long on-going conversation in a lounge or bar. At a certain point in time each one of us enters the room and joins the conversation. We listen to what has gone before. We learn and dialogue with others in the conversation, and we make our contributions. But it is true for each of us that sooner or later we have to excuse ourselves and leave the room. The conversation though, goes on, and others must build on our contribution and contribute themselves. I said in my speech that this perspective has us asking, "What sort of contribution am I making to the conversation? Is it positive, constructive and unifying? or is it negative, destructive and divisive?" I then went on to say that the second part is "that relatively soon I will have to excuse myself and leave the room. But that my experience of working with student volunteers (that I had talked about earlier in the speech) means that I will be able to leave the room knowing that there are people with a social conscience, energy, creativity and a willingness to get involved who will continue to contribute in a constructive way in the ongoing conversation of history."
It has been a week of reflecting on different generations and the passing of time.