Black Santa's Diary
Week two of the Black Santa sit-out is beginning today with news that the collection is going well and the response through postal giving is definitely up on last year.
We have someone analysing the numbers. He creates graphs of how the fund is building up compared to the last two or three years, when such detailed records were introduced.
Mind you, keeping an eye on such things is like watching the weather - you receive it gratefully.
That is not a bad thought to bring to mind this morning, the Monday before Christmas.
We need the rain as well as the sun, the moment of failure as well as success; the disappointment as well as the congratulation.
That's daily life. The charities being supported by the Black Santa fund will go through the same ups and downs and they will keep going because what they are doing is worthwhile.
Committed people are literally a Godsend to churches, charities and other organisations alike.
As the fund builds up this week, the many hundreds of people who give anything from a few pence to several thousand pounds will be thanked again and again by those who have the will, but just need the resources, to make a difference to the lives of others.
We dwell on these things as we stand out at the barrel on the steps of St Anne's. A flock of pigeons wheels around, doing another circuit of Writers' Square, then settles on the railings of the roof across the way, or forms in a line on the gable of the Police Ombudsman's office.
I feel them looking down on me, amused at the sight. What must they think? "Give us a crumb"?
Well, maybe. In a way, are we asking for any more?
- The Very Rev John Mann is Dean of Belfast