Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Monday, November 14, 2016

Emotional journey.

A special bird sanctuary area on Waiheke Island. 
Bush scene looking toward the mainland.
Sub-tropical bush walking.

Looking at the main township and its beach on Waiheke. 
My wife measures up grandson Stanley for some new clothes.
I have found myself churned up a few times recently. No biggy but I just share with you some things...

  • We paid a visit to my son and family on Waiheke Island, Auckland. (the north of New Zealand) I enjoy visiting the island, and it was great to catch up with Phil, Natasha and grandchildren, Edith and Stanley. Phil had me walking in the bush, kayaking and checking out the mechanics of a van he recently purchased. They have sold their house, and plan to move to Wellington. Sadly it will mean no more visits to paradise, and probably the house will get pulled down for property development. I am sad about this because Phil and I did quite a bit of DIY stuff on it. But the bright side is, they should be well off financially and they will be closer to us.
  • I have been astounded by the elections in the USA. A guy with such terrible attitudes, obvious personality problems and an addiction to telling lies will now lead this powerful country. It is beyond belief! But as I look at the sorts of values presented, it seems to me he portrays the very values communicated in TV shows, (especially rubbish reality shows), advertisements and in magazines. If enough people's minds uncritically absorb such crap this is what happens. God help us! I am glad I live in NZ, but the same tribalism and dumbing down of values and thinking is happening here. Tell Bernie to emigrate! He would enjoy New Zealand, and we could do with his thinking.
  • My brother from Australia visited and while in our city he celebrated his 70th birthday. My sister added to his birthday celebration by making it a family reunion, and cousins and friends from both my parents' sides of the family joined us, along with children and grandchildren. A powerpoint showed old photos that brought many memories. We smiled and laughed about numerous childhood events. There were sad/bad memories too, which I kept to myself.  At such times the journey of life floats to the front of your consciousness and you have a mixture of emotions.
  • A couple of weeks ago I led a Church Parade for the local St John Ambulance. The Order of St John was a Christian based organisation, so even these days it has an annual church parade. (and a chaplain to lead it.) Most in the organisation would not darken the doors of a church, so leading a Church parade is an interesting exercise. Last year instead of joining one of the inner-city churches, we ran it on our own, using a funeral chapel as a venue. This year they were keen to do the same. I love the challenge of putting together a service for basically a secular congregation, that to their surprise, is not boring and somehow links them to the sacred in life. Feedback suggests we succeeded, but the exercise was exhausting, physically and emotionally.
  • Last night at about 2:30 a.m. I got up and waddled down the hall toward the toilet. I suddenly became aware of the telephone ringing.  With bleary eyes and brain I answered it, expecting it to be some problem at the Night Shelter.  It was my son from Christchurch. "Hi Dad, just wanted to let you know we have evacuated and are at Beckenham." "Wh..What?" "Oh didn't you know... there has been a big earthquake and there is a tsunami warning for the whole East Coast!" He lives a few blocks from the beach in Christchurch. We turned on the radio and learned of the massive, (7.5) complicated earthquake which has impacted people from Christchurch through to Wellington area. There has been a lot of damage to roads, houses and infrastructure in mainly rural areas, but it has cut supply routes and railway lines. Christchurch damage was minimal, so my son's house was fine. No big tsunami eventuated and they are back home. The pictures coming in astound you. Railway lines were picked up and thrown around like they were a bit of string. Roads are completely buried by hillsides falling on top of them, and heaps of other devastation. There have been "only" two deaths. But the emotional drain on people whose homes have been wrecked, and they have to "stoop and build'em up with worn out tools," (Rudyard Kipling's "If") is incredible. I have found myself reliving emotions I felt when I visited Christchurch after the big quake there five years ago. I feel the pain of these people, and would love to be useful. We are about six hours drive from the epicentre. It did rock Dunedin houses, but we had slept through it.
So the last few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions. I am very busy with my involvement in ministry activity in the local church, chaplaincy and night shelter. People ask "are you enjoying retirement? What are you doing?" I say "Yes - but it hardly feels like retirement." It is never boring!