This is the second time I have contributed to e-fish. I began the newsletter in April and am know having a second turn. I am currently in my second year at Shirley Methodist in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch. I have also just returned from Long Leave, nine weeks of which was spent in Canada. I will share some of my Long Leave learning over this month.
If you can’t remember the brief bio I gave earlier in the year, [and I expect you can’t] Lynda and I have three children 21, 19 and 14, all still at home. Lynda works in Community Mental Health for Presbyterian Support. Our first two appointments were in the Auckland area, and I was at Rangiora [30km north of CHCH] before moving to Shirley, and I am in my 25th year of parish ministry.
Remember e-fish is a newsletter we can all share in. If you would like to have a go and write / compile e-fish for a month, or even a week. Then e-mail me at email@example.com
It’s is the hard days which make you strong.
In late July and August I embarked on a great adventure. At its conclusion I felt it was one of the best things I have ever done. Before I started however, I wondered if I had the strength or the ability. Over 27 days I cycled from Toronto to Halifax, traversing 2830 km of Canadian countryside, most often sleeping in a tent, and sharing the good and the bad with 24 others.
The journey commences in Toronto and travels to towards the east to take advantage of the prevailing west wind. Apparently it was El Nino, but the result was a period of 8 days when the wind blew ‘the wrong way’.
The most difficult day was forecast. Wisely we began earlier than usual. The first few kilometres were almost pleasant, and then the skies opened. The rain washed across the road, the wind chilled us as it drove into our faces. Yet by late afternoon we were celebrating our arrival at Laval University in Quebec City, and the prospect of hot showers and a warm dry bedroom.
The key to cycling is working as a team. The rider at the front provides a shield, which makes it possible for those if they follow close behind to do so using two thirds of the effort. Even so care must be taken not to drop someone off the back, for they will then have to push into the wind with almost no hope of catching up on their own. If that does happen, either the whole group has to slow, or another rider will go back, and pull them back to the bunch. The keys is that each person, if they are able takes a turn at the front, so all can have a time to ‘rest’ and then a time to lead.
It was in such a bunch that our group of 6 riders and 5 cycles [One tandem] set off through the rain. Soon we were totally soaked. And at that point, as hard as it was I knew we would make it.
To test my cycling strength and ability before I committed myself to go to Canada I entered the Christchurch to Akaroa race in late March. The wonderful warm dry late summer weather ended on the day of the race. I can never recall being wetter. But as we headed off for Quebec City, the feeling was identical, I knew that if I could do 100 km up and down hills in the rain, then working together we could do 140 km on reasonably flat roads.
It seems almost trite to observe that head winds and a variety of storms are part of life. Life like the weather is often affected by its El Nino events and the going becomes tough. Pastoral Care in its widest sense become the parallel of the group of cyclists. Those who have been there before can bring a strength and hope. Giving an appropriate lead which others can follow, will save those who follow considerable energy, and when one falls off the back, to go back and bring them back to the group is an act of simple compassion. All have something to offer, and all have need of a time of ‘rest’.
In the same way that we had to learn to ride as a bunch, so that we could trust one another when our wheels were just centimetres apart, it is necessary for the skills of Pastoral care to be learned. For others to trust us with their struggles it cannot be just giving advice, rather a standing with, and a profound listening too and entering in to another’s pain.
When it came to lunch time we had become a group of eight. Eight wet cold cyclists took refuge in a restaurant where the very hospitable owner ignored the large wet puddles which formed in our corner of her neat and tidy establishment. It was not only the food which was warming, but the way she treated this tired and bedraggled bunch. It was literally an oasis, a picture of what the community of the church can be.
We realised that if every day had been fine, with a tail wind, our fitness and strength would not have increased. It was in the hard days that our sense of community was enhanced and we shared some of our most memorable moments. The hard days make you strong.
Children’s Time in Church.
After using a ladder for several weeks [see April e-fish], someone suggested I bring my bike to church.
The first week I asked if there was anything on my bike which was not needed. After a great deal of thought it was suggested I didn’t need two bottle holders, I begged to differ, but then the children were thinking of biking to school, not to a neighbouring town and back.
As we looked at the bike together, we decided that even the smallest screw or nut and bolt had its place. That the obvious essential bits, like the wheels and the frame, the brakes the seat and the helmet would be useless with out all the other bits which make up the bike.
This led into a conversation about every person belonging to the body of Christ and all having gifts to contribute and share.
Of course if you haven’t a bike, one of the children almost certainly will. This works well however as the components of a cycle are easily seen and understood by even young children.
This next piece appealed to my sense of humour, or is the knowledge that Conference is not far away!!
Do you keep falling
asleep in meetings and seminars?
What about those long and boring conference calls?
Here's a way to change all of that.
1. Before (or during) your next meeting, seminar, or conference call, prepare yourself by drawing a square. I find that 5"x 5" is a good size. Divide the card into columns, five across and five down. That will give you 25 1-inch blocks.
2. Write one of the following words/phrases in each block:
* strategic fit
* core competencies
* best practice
* bottom line
* take that off-line
* out of the loop
* think outside the box
* fast track
* empower (or empowerment)
* knowledge base
* at the end of the day
* touch base
* client focus(ed)
* game plan
3. Check off the appropriate block when you hear one of those words/phrases.
4. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, stand up and shout "BINGO”
Testimonials from satisfied "BINGO”players:
1. "I had been in the meeting for only five minutes when I won." -Jack W., Boston.
2"My attention span at meetings has improved dramatically." -David D., Florida.
3"The atmosphere was tense in the last process meeting as 14 of us waited for the fifth box." - Ben G., Denver.
4"The speaker was stunned as eight of us screamed "BINGO” for the third time in two hours." - Kathleen L., Atlanta.
Till next time.