Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Variation, theme for the day.

The donated ambulance in the Octagon (Centre of the city) ready to be dedicated and unwrapped.
As I drove home tonight reflecting on my day, I could not help but think of the variety.
Here was my day's activities; I began by checking emails related to the night shelter and responding to them. During that time I received a Skype video call from my son in Edinburgh. It was great chatting for a short time, interrupted by a phone call about local church matters. 
I then went into town, where my first visit was to the brewery where I am their workplace chaplain. I was received warmly and I wandered about talking with various workers. One guy asked if I had been in contact with a man who had been dismissed from the brewery several months before. He said, "We'll phone him and put him on speaker phone." So we did. The two of us caught up with him and chatted warmly then we all moved on. At another part of the brewery some asked how they could help out at the night shelter during a community work day? After well over an hour there I came away feeling like I had enjoyed warm and significant conversations. 
But I could not bask in the feeling, because I rushed to the Ambulance station to have lunch. I had to change some of my clothing. I was to be involved in dedicating a donated ambulance in the centre of town, so I had to look like a chaplain dressed for a formal occasion. On the side of the road, off came the high vis jacket, my jumper and the steel capped boots and on went flash black shoes, a tie, and a St John chaplain's jacket. I had a quick lunch with paramedics catching up on their busy morning, then walked to the Octagon in the centre of town where an Ambulance was placed all wrapped up with a ribbon on display. Local, regional and national St John dignitaries gathered.  The local police chief and fire chief turned up and of course there were important people from the bank which was making the donation and other members of St John, operational and administration staff. I chatted with the fire chief, the St John dignitaries and an unemployed friend who used to come to our drop-in centre. Then the ceremony happened and I had to put on a clerical stole and lead appropriate prayers. The flash new state of the art ambulance was unwrapped, people had coffee and chatted before going our different ways. I chatted with some of the city's vulnerable people, the street people of our city who recognised me, and were keen to catch up. The local Member of Parliament had attended and shook my hand warmly. As he was leaving he stopped and talked enthusiastically about changes in leadership of his party and the election campaign. I went on my way chatting warmly with the fire chief as we walked down the street together.  I drove home to prepare for the next part of my day. As I travelled I thought of the mixture of people I had shared with and Rudyard Kipling's poem, "If". The last verse begins:
 "If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, 
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch. 
If Neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you. 
If all men count with you, but none too much."
I felt thankful for the variety. 
Once home I prepared to lead a Night Shelter Trust meeting that night, printing off papers and doing some thinking of the issues we would talk about. My wife was doing her rostered afternoon voluntary stint as a St John "Friend of the Emergency Department" at the hospital, so I prepared vegetables and a casserole for the evening meal. She would come home while I was at the Night Shelter meeting. 
I then returned to town to lead the Night Shelter meeting, which covered reports about past progress, and plans for the future. 

Driving home in the dark to a warm house and a meal which I had helped prepare, I reflected on the rich variety of my day.
There was the variety of tasks. 
* Catching up on brewery workers and having significant conversations there in high vis jackets, among kegs, computers, machines and forklifts.
* Talking with Ambulance staff and leading in a dedication ceremony in the centre of the city, dressed in clerical garb suitable for a St John Order chaplain.
* Preparing food in the kitchen and planning a meeting.
* Talking Night Shelter business, finance and future plans with a Trust Board as I chaired a meeting.

There was a variety of people. Family in Edinburgh. Brewery workers. Paramedics. Dignitaries. bankers. Fire Chief, a Member of Parliament and caring responsible Night Shelter Trustees, as well as friendly vulnerable street people. 

I am indeed privileged, - but maybe a tad busy.

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