Category Archives: Awareness

Two weddings and a few funerals

Weddings and Funerals

I have been thinking about both of these things lately, my son is being a best man at Easter for a friend of his, 20 years old and getting married, the first thought that pops into my mind is don’t,too young, that is informed by a number of narratives, personal experience, societal norms mainly.  A friend of mine attended a wedding recently, too hard she said, too many memories, couples everywhere.  Another friend of mine was expressing similar thoughts about a wedding he is going to.  There is a common thread about these feelings, negative experiences, hurt and cynicism inform them.  I have attended a couple of weddings since I became single, after thinking about them I have to say that I had different attitudes and experiences at both.

Weddings and funerals have a lot of similarities, both take a lot of planning and involve preparation and expense.  They are where friends and relatives come together and share emotions, love, mostly, and grief, yes grief even at weddings.  Sadness and happiness inextricably linked with each other, even at their most base level, grief only comes through knowing love.  Weddings and funerals have elements of loss and gain in them. Rites of passage they are both and they are important milestones in society.

For me they are a reminder of my own singleness, however I am not going to bang on ad infinitum about me.  I am going to talk about regrets.  As I was driving home from Auckland the other day I reflected after another near miss as a camper van took a sudden turn towards me on the express way.  I have had closer experiences with disaster, squashed between a truck and a power pole in a vehicle crash, electrocuted underneath a house to mention a couple of experiences.  I vowed then to live a fuller life without regrets.  Most of the regrets in my life have come from inaction rather than actions I have done.  I counselled someone this week that doing nothing was not an option for them, someone close was dying and they were not sure if they could cope with visiting them.  “paying respects” at a funeral just doesn’t really cut it.

I understand some peoples reluctance when they are going to see someone who is terminally ill, what do you say to them, whispering, weak, wet platitudes, how are you doing doesn’t seem to cut it…..  There are some people who thrive on the drama of death and dying, professional mourners almost, I have experienced these at some funerals and at death bed scenes, noisy and seemingly abject grief which at first glance looks like they must have been extremely close, yet the reality is far different.  Similarly I have been at funerals where people have said they won’t last 5 minutes.

In the case of the former I do wonder if through their very public showing of grief if they are trying to make up for actions past?  Perhaps they are mourning the cost of their own actions.  In the case of the nay-sayers at weddings, I don’t see why they would come to a wedding that they thought won’t last, why would you waste your time, surely the lure of food and drink is not that strong?

A constant theme that emerges at family funerals I have attended is the narrative that we should meet as a family at celebrations of joyful occasions, we just don’t seem to be as close today in terms of contact with aunts, uncles, cousins as I was in growing up.  The effects of separation and divorce hit this as well.

None of these reflections probably come as a surprise to most people I am quite sure, these  is  symptoms of a modern society that is extremely focused on the individual and are a natural consequence of the all-pervading religion of consumerism that drives society today.  Our dog eat dog world is a pernicious sickness that invades and pervades every institution from the church through to that unholiest of places parliament.

I know this because I recognise it, I see it in myself and it disgusts me.  If it is not in something external that I do it is that which I see in my own heart.  I have seen it in a new light recently and I have had to make some decisions about that which I value and give my time to.  It means that some of the things that I have given value have to fall away whilst I concentrate on doing the primary thing that needs my attention and that is being an effective and caring parent.

What does this have to do with weddings and funerals you may well ask.  Weddings and funerals are places where regrets are often remembered.  I hope that I don’t have those regrets at any of those life markers that I attend.  I have enough regrets about things that have impacted on my and my children’s lives already. I do not want to add to that list.  My hope is that you read this and examine your own lives and if need be make some adjustments of your own.

With peace and love,

Paul

 

Of concerts and responsibility

Driving in my car I turned on the radio, then my playing on the radio was, oh no wrong post. Last year I posted about wanting to go to the winery concert, thought it would be a good idea, entertained the thought for a while then flagged it, too expensive, Continue reading

You have seen them

that is if you use face book, those little e cards saying things like taking your ex back is like putting a poo back where it came from, or that moment when you see your ex Continue reading

BMW vs Honda?

A strange question perhaps.  I am in the position of having recently bought another vehicle.  Retired the faithful Nissan to that great graveyard in the sky,possibly being made into nails as we speak!  I did have a bit of a hard time deciding what to buy but I have to say my ego was not involved. Continue reading

Living in a garage doesn’t make you a car….

Back slider, out of fellowship, un-redeemed, not in fellowship, just a few of the words that are often bandied about in the church.  Continue reading

Blond hair, dark glasses and a puffer jacket,

Puffer jacket, faded jeans and sunnys, leaning up against a sign, a baseball cap completed the ensemble. From a distance, I wasn’t quite sure, the silhouette was small, was this a child?  No thumb out just standing by a sign at an on ramp, looking as if a taxi was due to arrive.

I haven’t picked up hitch-hikers for a while now, I am not sure particularly why, I think I have been feeling vulnerable perhaps, perhaps just the feeling that I have enough people in my world to look after and I don’t want to find someone else in need at the moment. Anyway it matters not, I nearly kept on driving, I had a twinge of guilt perhaps and pulled up.  In an instant the figure was galvanized into action racing towards me.  I lowered the window and asked where are you off to?Rotorua came back the reply, I offered a ride part of the way and they jumped straight in the car.

There was a distinct air of vulnerability about this hitchhiker, an unusual shape to her face, barely 147 cms perhaps less and no more than 40 kgs dripping wet I would guess.  She carried a small backpack, which she hugged tightly on her lap.  Jackie was her name.  I could almost smell the fear on her, I told her who I was, what I did for a living, even gave her a business card.  I tried to engage her in small talk but rather quickly gave up, as Jackie fixed her gaze firmly on the road ahead.  I wondered what drove her to hitch-hike, she would not be able to resist if someone tried something on.

There was a hardness to her , a very determined set to her jaw. The hardness was accentuated by some rather obvious acne scars that were poorly concealed with makeup.  the angular lines of her face and a sloping forehead didn’t help.  Her oversized puffer jacket dwarfed her.  When she spoke her voice had an almost child-like simplicity to it. It was as if she had victim written all over her.  After a short time, I put Shania Twain on the stereo and drove on just thinking.  Another time I would have driven her all the way to Rotorua, I just couldn’t face the drive today.  I hope I made the right decision.  I did take the longer way home for me, dropping her at what i considered a safer place to catch the next leg of her journey.  She didn’t seem to know her way very well at all and when I asked her where she wanted to be dropped, she was very passive, saying wherever.

I wasn’t sure whether it was sadness, resignation or just plain scared that was on her face, I couldn’t see her eyes behind her dark wrap around sunglasses which almost seemed to be like a protective visor, her cap a helmet and her puffer jacket her suit of armour.  I wanted to ask her what her story was, reach out to her soul in some way, put right whatever was broken, travelling so light I wondered if she was running away from something or somebody. I half expected her to ask for some money.  the one anomaly was her perfume, it smelt expensive, not one I could name but it was really classy.

Jackie rode along in silence and then i noticed her beginning to fall asleep.  She struggled to keep awake, jerking bolt upright every time she nodded off.  I turned the aircon on for her.  I could sense her discomfort at falling asleep and I wondered,it was only 2.30 in the afternoon… Perhaps drugs were the reason she was so thin, her wrists seemed so tiny.  She fought sleep but eventually nodded off until we slowed for a turn off.  Every now and then  could sense a sour smell, not really body odour, but it was there, just under the radar….

I was worried for her, I thought I hope she will be alright but when it came to my turnoff I dropped her at the side of the road, I told her I was concerned for her safety, I asked her was she scared, she said she was.  I suggested to her to text a friend the registration of the car she was being picked up by.  She almost jumped out of the car after thanking me, quickly shouldering her bag and without looking back she started to walk, I looked back in the mirror and wondered, what her story was, would she be ok? Was I doing the right thing?  I hoped so, I could rationalise my decision, Jackie was an adult, early 30’s I thought.  I checked the online news, nothing about a missing person.  I had regrets, I didn’t ask her if she was ok, I had no words for her really, I know I am only human, I showed her a kindness in giving her a lift, giving her advice.  I can’t save the world, some things just are.  I hope Jackie is ok…..

S

Broken, somethings just are….

I remember it as if it were yesterday, 41 years is a long time to have a memory like that.  I had admired it for a week, standing tall and proud  Dressed in shining splendour, green and gold with a shiny silver overcoat, it had to be mine.  I am not sure how I wangled it, either bottles to the bottle-man or I may have mowed some lawns but in my hand I held the necessary to make it mine, possess and admire it till the time came to set it free.  I took it out of the over coat, smelt it savored  it, stroked it even, smooth then just a little rough.  I held it by its single white leg and imagined how it would end, and then disaster, in a moment it was an amputee, this thing of wonder lay in two pieces and I was desolate.  My rocket was broken.  this was no plastic fantastic but made in China nevertheless. This was the grand deluxe, sky traveller rocket, ready to be ignited to fly high into the sky and with a huge bang ignite a flare that would hang in the air by a thing of absolute marvel, its own parachute.  But now it was broken.  I remeber taping it up, but like a modern space rocket tape didn’t do it. I lit it, it fizzed rose a few feet, exploded and was done,  it was broken and could not be fixed, refired, rebuilt, re engineered, it was finished.

I thought about this as I read the news about the Pike River Mine http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11354441, it’s so unfair I heard one person lament.  Twenty nine men dead, and no one held accountable and no bodies to be recovered, no comfort here, just 29 men lying on the hard rock at the bottom of the earth, no words said over their bodies,no final farewells, time to move on they said, nothing more to be done, nothing to see here, move along. Tomorrow I have another MRI scan, back problems, bad, no relief from the relentless pain and disability, sucks me dry, destroys me one little bit at at time.

This is a last gasp attempt t try and get some resolution, lose some weight they said, so I dd 45 kgs, no improvement. get fit they said, so I did, be active so I did,get a job, so I did, take these pills, that vitamin, this mineral, pray, be thankful, all of these things I have done.  It is like I have used my prayer quota up on other things…. a long time ago.  I am prepared to be told that there is nothing “they” can do for me, I have heard it all before.  I have a plan for that but I know.  I know broken when I see it now and i am largely a broken man, living a life dictated by circumstance and brokenness.

I have encountered broken many times, I have pressed on chests and poured air into my neighbors lungs, in a futile attempt to start here heart beating again, all I did was push her blood into her chest, you see her heart was broken, an aneurysm they said, you did a good job, there was no chance, but I tried, I prayed and pumped and pumped and prayed and breathed, nothing, just a still whiteness and the smell of death,

I recognise other things in my life that are broken, I am tempted to try and fix them however b myself all I could do would be like my rocket, fix it with tape and hope, if I had had Gorilla glue I may have had a chance, however the weigh to be power ratio in the rocket was made for it to be perect and could never function with tape around the stick.  I have carried that broken rocket in my head for 40 plus years.  I hope the other brokenness is not with me for that long.

Live laugh and love well and freely, who knows what the morrow brings, it may be too late on the morrow.