Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

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.

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