Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Reflecting on life and its fortunes.

A beautiful bay where I stopped for lunch on my Sunday walk on Waiheke Island. 
I love walking wild pathways.
Grandson Stanley comes for a ride.
Reversing away from the beach before venturing along it. When we came back he said, "More!"
Super confident, 3 year old (nearly 4) grand daughter Edith, on her father's paddle-board. 
The two buckets on the left were the harvest from the final plants of sown potatoes. The right hand blue bucket are "grace" potatoes, self sown in long grass. 
Visiting Waiheke Island
Our oldest son lives with his wife and two children on Waiheke Island, about a half hour ferry ride from down town Auckland. My son has a bit of health uncertainty and we had not seen the grandchildren for a while, so we decided to make a quick visit. It is really like a tropical island compared to Dunedin. Dunedin, down the south of the South Island of New Zealand is starting to feel the chilly evenings and mornings of autumn. Life guards have stopped patrolling beaches and only the brave in thick wetsuits venture into the water. On Waiheke Island, in the north of the North Island there were people swimming in the sea and sunbathing! I got to enjoy a couple of hours of kayaking in a bay on the Saturday, and a lengthy coastal walk on Sunday. We flew up on Friday, catching a plane, a bus and the ferry, returning in reverse order on the Monday. It was, for us, expensive travel, but family is important. 
Careful what you want.
The Night Shelter Trust owns two buildings. One we operate as a Night Shelter, the other we operate as transitional housing for men fresh out of prison. We have often wished the ex-prisoners would take responsibility for the lawns and gardens around Phoenix lodge, but that never seemed to happen. But now we have a guy who seems hyper-active and so keen to do things. He demands tools, weedkiller and machines, and he wants them NOW! He has the other tenants moving things, raking grass and keeping up with his busyness and me run ragged trying to supply his needs. The place is looking neater by the day, but I have been known to scream "That damn man!" or words to that effect.
A lesson from potatoes.
Today I dug the last of our planted potatoes. They have been a good crop. Beside the garden there is a pathway with long grass growing. Amongst the long grass were potato plants that were self sown, perhaps from discoloured or small potatoes I had discarded on the path seasons before. Today as I cleaned up the final row, I decided to dig these wild, self sown potatoes as well. To my surprise I found that they had grown well and I filled a bucket with them.
I got to thinking. These are "grace" potatoes. I did not have to buy seed potatoes, prepare the soil, dig trenches, hoe them up or water them. They just grew. They are like what the Bible calls "Grace", undeserved favour. As I put them into the bucket I got to thinking how, perhaps when we look at a homeless man or some other person in a mess, we often say, "There but for the grace of God go I,"  I dislike that saying because its logic implies God gives some "grace" but not to others. I would prefer just to say, "There but for grace, go I." So much of life is sheer chance. Where we were born. To whom we were born. The heritage we received in our community, in our family, and in our genes. Some of us are fortunate indeed. We receive a big bucket full of "grace".  I was born into a caring stable family, in a peaceful community with health, education and lifestyle facilities laid on. Some, however, were born in Syria. Some were born in poor unstable families. Some were born with low intelligence, and little support. Sometimes we receive a "big bucket full" of undeserved favour in life. At other times the grace component is minimal, and we live life with immense deprivation of one sort or another. 
Be grateful for the undeserved buckets of "potatoes" you receive, make the most of them and share with others who received few, or none. 

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