Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Life speeds by ..... but includes so much.

A really old typewriter ... many assignments,  Gestetner stencils and letters have been typed on this 
The snappy "modern" portable we bought about 1980.
Tools for art work on Gestetner stencils.
A film strip/slide projector ... so "modern" at the time. 
Feeling young still. 
I was driving in the city and a van turned in front of me. It was sign-written on its panels inviting people to explore building apprenticeships.  While driving I read the invitation and excitedly said to myself, "I'd love to do that! ... maybe I could?" Then I remembered, I'm 67 years old, and 67 year olds do not do apprenticeships. Polytech's and universities are advertising courses at this time of the year and I read enviously. "I'd love to try that!" On Saturday I absentmindedly browsed the "situations vacant" pages of the newspaper. I saw jobs that I thought I could do... my heart still thinks its young. (I was reminded this afternoon of the "University of the third age," that maybe I could attend?) 
I am constantly surprised at how old I am. It doesn't seem long ago that I was a teenager! When did I get old? Where did all those years go? What have I done in that time? I still feel like I want to adventure and try new things? 
Archeology in my cupboard. 
I have been trying to tidy up my office. Two big boxes of waste paper have been burnt. Some other stacks of paper have gone into the recycling bin. A big box of books is ready to go to a local charity book sale. Then my attention turned to the cupboard in my room. This cupboard has been the place I push stuff I can no longer store elsewhere. It has been a nostalgic journey. 
Changes in technology mapped... As I cleaned things out to see all that was in the cupboard I discovered interesting changes in technology over the years of my career. When I started doing youth work in Church as a teenager, I remember editing a youth paper and printing it on a "Gestetner". For about half of my career we still used "Gestetners" to print newsletters, hymn sheets and studies.  The more recent ones were electrified and you didn't have to turn the handle. You typed up a stencil and on that could do drawings with a "stylus".  I found in my cupboard styluses and guides that enabled me to enhance documents with art work and lettering. Now of course we use computers and printers.  I found two old typewriters. One so old it may be of interest to a museum. I bought it for $5 when I was in college in Australia in the early '70's and used it to type up my assignments. Another is a little portable one we had when we lived in a caravan as Church "Fieldworkers".  I could type up documents for studies, letters to churches and reports. But then technology moved on. I discovered in my cupboard a big 5 inch floppy disc that our first office computer used. Of course there was also the smaller discs which have given way to Cd's, and now memory sticks.  I found too a slide projector I purchased in the early 1970's. It has an adapter on it that enabled me to show film strips. I have a case of hymn slides and slides of the life of Jesus I inherited from an elderly man in my congregation.  But then I found two boxes of old overhead projector transparencies, some old videos, and then an old laptop on which I first explored power-points.  Time has seemed to speed by, but in my time there has been dramatic change.
Memories of life and a journey in Church ministry.  I unearthed a box that had been labelled "crayons". In that box there were two boxes of crayons which my parents had bought me as birthday and Christmas presents when I was attending a Saturday morning art-class as a boy! I have dabbled with them on a few occasions since. I found too a partly knitted jersey I started to knit soon after we were married. Forty six years ago my bride taught me to knit and I was going to knit myself a warm work jersey. It has never been completed.  I found in the depths of my cupboard documents that brought memories flooding into my mind. There were photocopies of two letters my father wrote to my mother while he was overseas during World War II.  Photocopies of their marriage license and birth certificates. There were newspaper articles about some of the things I have done.  There were articles about ministry movements and the fieldworker journeys. A newspaper photo of me leading a prayer with a line up of city firefighters at the time of 9/11.  There were photos of Habitat for Humanity ventures. The invitation and instructions I received to an ecumenical service with the Pope when he last visited NZ. Photos of trips, holidays, camps, conferences and friends. There were three boxes which held the notes from the many weddings and funerals I have led over the years. Another box held university course notes, while another articles and magazines I had contributed to. There were the official letters related to the "Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit" medal I received. Along with that newspaper articles, cards and letters from well wishers at the time. In there too there were "get well" cards I received when I was in hospital, but also farewell cards and letters I got when I retired.  I did not go slowly through all this stuff. I just packed the stuff I wanted to keep in accessible containers and replaced it in an ordered way back in the cupboard.

"It has been a constructive journey with a lot of variety and a great amount achieved." was the sentence that ran through my mind as I closed the door on my now tidy cupboard. Time has flown, but there has been a lot of living packed into those years. ... And there's more to come!  

Friday, January 1, 2016

A quick glance at 2015 highlights.

I went for a New Years Day reflective walk up “my” Mount Cargill this afternoon. In my mind I reflected on 2015 and its highlights for me. Here are some….
Highlights of 2015
*      Harvesting more vegetables from our vegetable garden. We are slowly developing it more in retirement.
*   Building a woodshed and keeping myself in firewood with free pallets from a store in town.
*    Helping people through tough times by leading funerals for people linked to all my chaplaincies. It is strange to call them highlights, but I feel really useful and fulfilled doing this sort of stuff.
*      Visiting son Phillip and wife and two children on Waiheke Island. Going for a walks with him and helping with a project.
*     Doing some work with our other son Simon on the fences of their new house in Christchurch. I find it a lot of fun working with my boys on handyman projects, though they tease me heaps about my skills or lack of skills.
*     The Workplace Support Chaplains’ retreat with Major Campbell Roberts leading.  He is a Salvation Army officer who has a high standing and credibility as a commentator on social/political issues in NZ. It was an encouragement to be with him and hear his passion for what he called the “sinned against” in our society.
*      Spending a night sleeping out with around 200 students and others in the Octagon in the centre of town.  We raised money and awareness for the night shelter cause. Working with these adventurous young people was life giving.  We also involved City councillors and politicians. The city began to “own” the project then.
*     Leading an Order of St John Church Parade in a funeral home chapel.  It was my idea to do this instead of fronting up to somebody else’s service. It was a risky break from tradition, but it went well. I like St John as an organisation and am proud to be a voluntary chaplain with them.
*     The Dunedin Night Shelter Trust purchased its buildings. It has been an eleven-year dream. We have been raising money for at least three years. We have firmly established the service in the city into the future.
*      Speaking at an awards gathering for volunteer students. I felt I had something significant to say and enjoyed the interaction. I was impressed by the students receiving awards and the stuff they had done.
*      A quick visit to friends in Adelaide, Australia. We both got ill during the time there and things did not go to plan, but it was still good to catch up with these long time friends.
*     One day of working with Chaplains from Workplace Support & staff from CORE Education on projects at the Night Shelter.  It was a rainy day, but it was great to see people coming alive by working for a great cause together. It was like a Habitat for Humanity day.
*     Two new grandchildren arriving in the last weeks of 2015, a grandson in Edinburgh and a granddaughter in Christchurch.  A new generation is expanding.
*   Spending Christmas with all our NZ based family in Christchurch.  We chatted, we played with the children, we went sight seeing and we ate together. It was great to see the family relating and sharing. I enjoyed several walks with my son Phillip. We have a similar love of walking in the bush or countryside.

I wonder what 2016 will hold for me? 
What adventures will I have? What challenges will I face? Some things I know.
*     I need to find a Church home I am happy to support. There is an important meeting next month in the local church. They want to look at “where they are going”. My continued involvement will depend on the sorts of things they decide.
*      We are going back to Edinburgh some time in the middle of the year to catch up on family there.
*      The Night Shelter Trust is evolving… we want to offer more social work assistance for our clients. Putting these things in place will be challenging.
I hope and pray for…
*      A closing of the gap between rich and poor in our country and internationally. The violence in our streets and also the unsettled international situation, I think has its source in people feeling disempowered and unable to have a fair slice of the pie.
*      More employment or purposeful living options for people currently unemployed. We have a growing number of people unable to be employed and finding a certain emptiness in life. If we cannot employ them we need to find ways they can fit into our society in a meaningful way. They and society in general suffer when they have no place.
*      A dedication and energy to explore non-violent ways to resolve international conflicts and deal to terrorism.
*      An openness so that we become more global citizens, recognising our links to all of humanity.
*      Seriousness in the way we work to slow climate change.  We need too a dedication to find more sustainable ways to live happily.

 Dreams are free. Bring on 2016.