If you're ever running from the police, don't think heading into Flinders St Station for a train will help you. A few times I have seen cars screech up and 20 to 30 cops run into the station; it's very organized and planned. They have every exit covered and the one time a perp got lucky and onto a departing train, the cops rushed back out into their cars and floored it to the max, up the street after the train. With such haste they would be well at the next station before the train will get there.
I started the day by attending the service at St. Johns Lutheran Church at Southbank. The Lutheran church is not much different to any other, except the priest likes to sing almost everything and the congregation usually sings a response. It was fairly enjoyable, except that I am 'over' organ music.
Then I trained home to visit as I planned to be in and out over the few Christmas days, and my Uncle, Aunt and Grandma were down from Sydney this year, so I wanted to maximise as much time with them as possible, and still do some FW stuff. A relaxed afternoon with some good chats, and a warm shower to heat up from the cold morning.
In the evening, they gave me a lift back into the city (as they were attending the SPC carol service) and I headed off through the drizzle to the Yarra boatsheds where Rosie's Oblate Youth Mission were holding a Christmas BBQ get together for homeless and street people. Word had gone around that it would be 'the big one' to attend, and there would be lots of people going, which there was. Gift bags were handed out, but I didn't take one as it didn't provide anything I would need, and everyone lined up for some food. I chatted with Rupert, quite an effort for him to get here considering he walks very slowly with a walking frame, and everyone was happy and cheery, despite the occasional rain.
Cathy came over and we had a good long talk about God, hope and purpose. She wasn't religious but was very interested in what I had to say. She said I should go on tv and talk to people there. I said I was interested in the street community and she just couldn't understand why I would be interested in "people on the bottom" of society. Her experience was that professional people have no interest or respect for street people; illustrated by the story of how the lawyer handling her mother's death had not even called to tell her of the incident until 3 weeks after her mother died, consequently she had missed the funeral, and was feeling guilty about not being there.
After the party I met Roger Dodger up at SPC and he was interested in how I was going. He strongly encouraged me to go on the welfare system despite my protests that I didn't want any Government handout. He said since the money was there I should take it and pass it on to another needy person, or I could support a whole village in Africa based on the Centrelink pension. I said I really didn't want any welfare money, even for others, I didn't want to be signed on to the government's system. He said ok, then insisted I accept $20 from him to help me on my journey. I agreed, as long as he didn't need it himself and took it. He smiled slyly, and said, "You know, I am on the pension, and so that $20 is from the welfare system..." Doh! I replied, "In a round about way, but you are offering it out of a generous heart and concern, and that is why I am accepting it." He also gave me his address if I ever needed a place to stay, and I promised to drop by sometime.
Lastly, I headed off to my home Church for our 11pm carol service. I have to sit up the front now, as without my glasses I can't read the words on the screen from very far. The talk was on Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, which was good as I had always wondered what that non-gold gift stuff was.
Afterwards it was cold, wet and it felt too late to make the effort to head back into the city, so I thought, "Any options, God?" I was just then talking with Harold about the possibility of sleeping in the hall, when some friends walked by and asked if I would like to stay at their place tonight. That was generous! We walked back to their place and talked a little about homelessness and Christmas time relative gatherings, then went to sleep.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
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