Friday, January 01, 2010

Welcome the new decade

There were half a dozen of us for the midday Eucharist yesterday. I picked a shopping bag full of litter up from the church entrance afterwards, then visited the City Centre Managment office to wish the team a happy new year, before returning home and settling in for a quiet evening with friends. Rachel phoned from Canada, Katherine texted us from Sta Pola in Spain, and Owain from Prague. Our guests departed at eleven, so Clare and I stood alone on the doorstep in the chill night air under the rare 'blue moon' to watch the festive fireworks in Coopers Field and at the 'Calennig' funfair at midnight.

Clare and I took a wardrobe apart this morning, so that she can re-furbish ready for the move to come. She enjoys DIY. It's a habit I'll have to acquire once more when I retire and run out of work related excuses. There were just two of us for the Eucharist to welcome in the new year this lunctime. Shoppers were just begininng to flow in to the centre. The streets were still untidy from the previous night's revelling - understandably as even street cleaners deserve time off at festive times. It could have been worse. This past few months things have been so much better. Our new shopping centre seems to be encouraging decent behaviour from passing consumers.

On my way home, I met Graham, one of a small number of Cardiff's Street Carers who has a personal ministry to homeless people on the streets, and can be found out there several times a week, with a suitcase full of really useful things that come in handy for people in need who have little or nothing. He's such a thoughtful man. He told me how he'd been out one evening recently, taking with a group of homeless people when he had been upbraided by a security official belonging to a large store in the neighbourhood, blaming the seasonal shoplifting epidemic on homeless people. Such a ridiculous piece of scapegoating. Graham decided that a kind answer would turn away wrath, and visited the store next day, smartly dressed (instead of wearing his usual outfit for street care work), bearing a card and a gift wrapped Gideons New Testament.

Next time he saw the man in question, he was profuse in apology. I couldn't help thinking that most street people wouldn't have the confidence to penetrate deep into shopping aisles packed with covet-wear tycoon threads or girlie party frocks - to steal what? And security guards tend to weed out the usual suspects with behaviour or body odour problems close to the door. Smart thieves don't usually show up on the radar of suspicion. Their demeanour is not that of a poor victim struggling to survive in a cold and sometimes vicious world on the margins of society, where anyone and everyone can pick on them, with or without justification.

Woe unto us with so many possessions to guard.

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