Sunday, January 15, 2006

sunday night reflections

How are you? I'm fine. I'm glad you're here. Welcome. Did you have a nice weekend? Mine was really good!

Thought I'd get a bit more personal, i like that. You too? We're about to start another winter week. Every week of winter brings us that much closer to spring!!!

I've been thinking about these 3 things for several days, and then tonight, on coming home from our weekly run to take our youngest back to uni, i thought i'd take a few minutes to sit and type some thoughts. I hope they mean something to you, like they do to me?

Thought stream 1:
Garbage. . . It stinks. Its rotten and gross, degraded bits and pieces of things. Its ugly. Its nastily contaminated with bacteria that would make me ill. Do you know what I love though? Every week i can take all the drippy, decaying things that can't be used and cannot stay where i live, for certainly they would pollute my home and harm my person. . and I can dispose of the mess in bags and take it out and leave it on the street. The best part, even more than removing it from my dwelling, is that someone will drive by, pick it up and take it away forever. They will bury it and I will never have to deal with it again. I love that. Its so cleansing to get rid of garbage. It feels better, it smells better, looks better-- its better for my health. Every Sunday night is garbage night. I always spiritualize this night, cuz its just so 'ripe' with meaning. There's no time when i gather garbage for disposal that I do not think about in a spiritual way. I won't elaborate. . but i'm sure as you think of it, you can see why i do.

Thought stream 2:
The wisdom of children. I love children. They don't 'do' b.s. They are more pure than we are. They haven't learned the complexities/falsities of relational living. They feel a certain way, they say it. They see something, they tell it like it is. You tell them something, they believe you. When they're really young, they don't care how they are perceived. They just are and they're happy with who they are. Sure they're 'people in training' so, sometimes they act like dorks. They're learning how to care about more than just them. . . in some cases it takes a while. They fascinate me. I like to watch how they behave. I like to ask them questions. They will unwittingly say or do the most basic, profound things that can actually make us take notice and learn from them. Today at lunch my grandson told us about a female classmate of his, who goes by the name of Carson. "She always kisses me. . . . .and I say ' I think I'm in looove'!!!" It was a hilarious moment. He's a lovey dovey guy. When all's right in his world and he feels loving and joyful he often loves to exclaim: "I love everybody in the world!!" I'm always sad when his Mommy has to remind him "Except for strangers and bad people." The complexities present themselves early, indeed must be presented. My granddaughter, Erica is developing her word skills nicely, she's not quite 2 yet. She's a delicate-looking but feisty and affectionate at the same time. The other day she didn't say anything, but she had selected a book from my rec room bookshelf. She came up to me and handed me the book, and motioned that she wanted me to read it to her. It was called "Christ, The Sum of All Spiritual Things". It blew me away. I know that she wasn't aware of it, but it was like God himself prompted her to do it, just to remind me of the truth.

Thought stream 3:
You never know when you might be challenged. I have a new friend named Lynn who owns a beautiful store. She sells antiques, retro items of all sorts, new things. Its a shop of wonder. . its like walking into her home and she welcomes you in that manner. We struck up an instant rapport. I love to go there to look forvery reasonably-priced treasures, but i go there just to talk to her too. Two Saturdays ago I drove there for a visit. I parked across the street and walked over. Just outside her shop front, i noticed a young guy dressed in fatigues and a bomber jacket, a black touque covered his head, the hood pulled up over. He was bearded and dark-haired. He didn't look a day over 20. He approached me and asked me "Is it all right if I ask you a question?" My sensors were on. . . he seemed okay. . no red lights went off. I answered "Sure." He asked "Do you know anywhere where I can get a meal and maybe stay? I've been sleeping on the streets and its cold and I'm hungry." It just so happened that I did know of a brand new shelter where he could have all his needs met. I told him where it was, though it was somewhat hard to describe, as he wasn't from around here, and I wasn't sure of the street name. He asked if the bus driver would know where it was and I said that was very likely. He asked if i had even a bit of change, so that he could take the bus. I gave him enough for bus fare. It was all I had. He seemed grateful. I felt so bad that this kid had to live like this . . He told me that he had gone to a nearby church with a sign that read "Out of the Cold". . but nobody was there. I told him that they stopped that program when they built the shelter. Then I felt bad that this kid went to a church and nobody was there. I know people can't be expected to live there. . but i just felt like maybe churches of all places should be 'open' 24 hours, grocery stores and fast food places are. . .

Anyway, he went on his way and I went in to see Lynn. It was nice to talk again. . a drunk man came in the store. Lynn was trying to politely shove him off. . as it was his habit to come in every day, hang around the store for hours, steal things when Lynn wasn't looking, ask for food, etc. That day he wanted to shovel her snow for money. He seemed desperate. Lynn told him that she was very busy and didn't have time to talk. She was. She later told me that he and several of his friends come around all the time. She gives them some of the designer cookies that she sells. She talks to them. I told her "Aside from wanting to steal for obvious reasons, i think they come here because your store is like home and because you're maternal and you feed them cookies." She confessed that sometimes she was afraid, because she's alone and she's not always sure if she's safe. I felt for her situation and I myself felt funny for the following reasons. . . i had this 8-seater van parked on the road, I could have taken that young to the shelter. . .the old guy too. But I had to guard myself because I was a woman on my own and we all know why that doesn't work. I felt bad because I knew that I had a lot of food at home and that i had a house and everything i needed in that house. I had people i loved in that house. . i didn't have to go stand in a store to feel like i was 'at home', or beg for food, or sleep on the street. I said my goodbyes to Lynn and I drove home, right past the shelter. I arrived home to a spaghetti and salad ready for me. All i could think of was this hungry young man with nothing and nobody and the drunk older man hanging around in a woman's shop because he had no place to go. Sometimes you can be really content you know, then you come face to face with people's need and loneliness and hunger you feel such a sense of _________________ what's the word I'm searching for?


Tee said...

I'm just so moved by your post. I love how I'm sitting here feeling like we just had a heart to heart conversation between friends.

As for the garbage - I can't add a single useful word to what you wrote. Your right on the money. I totally agree and understand with that feeling.

As for the nature of children - Yes. It is so pure and beautiful. My 4 yr. old also often says he "loves the whole world"... I don't like to remind them of evil out there that we shouldn't love but I do sometimes, out of a sense of duty and protection... It's sad that we can't "love the whole world".

And lastly - I have had this same situation. You want to help, you have a nice car with plenty of seats and gas - but you don't do it. You don't help the hitchhiker or the lonely homeless guy. You can't - for your own safety. But that excuse doesn't make it feel right. I've gone to McDonald's and bought a meal for a homeless guy - handed it to him through the car window and drove off to him saying, "Thank you, ma'am. God bless you. God bless you." --- And I think, no - God shouldn't bless me. It isn't enough. A real Christian would take the man home. Give him a place to stay - friendship, conversation, a shower, find him a job... I should be blessed for a cheeseburger? No.

It saddens me. I understand the complexity of the feelings you're feeling. I enjoyed "connecting" with you through your post.

Kathryn said...

I'm so glad this post meant something to you, hon. And we are having a heart to heart. . here in the comments section! This is my favourite part of blogging. . 'talking' to the people who visit.

i take my life lessons where they emerge. . and they're everywhere.. .esp in the garbage. I guess i miss them sometimes, but i hope i get enough of them to grow?

children -- my life without children and grandchildren would be so void of richness. They have been my teachers in life.

our responsibility to help others. . . you're right, it is hard to do what we WANT to do for those we meet who have such needs. I would love to invite them to my home, but i'm afraid to. I always help as much as I can. . but i'm with you, it never feels like enough. Coincidentally, or maybe not so, there was an article in the weekend paper about the very shelter i had recommended to that young guy. They need volunteers. I copied down the phone number.

lindsay said...

It's good that you're so nice to the homeless people, but you really shouldn't get so friendly with them! It really freaks me out when you say that you have an 8 seater van and wish you could take them somewhere - never, never, never do that! If you have change to spare, give it to him, smile and keep on walking. If you run into a questionable character when you're by yourself, cross to the other side of the street, no eye contact! That actually goes for anyone you see on the street, questionable or not. It's a shame, but even if someone seems harmless and nice enough you just never know what they're going to do!

supersimbo said...

great post Kat, you always have such meaningful posts, i like your thoughts

Kathryn said...

thanx, Ally for your kind words. I also like your blog - its so thoughtful and interesting and funny and artistic.

Linds, don't worry!! I would never, ever take any unknown person anywhere in my van, or bring them to our home. I WISH that I could, but i know that i can't. Its unfortunate that we have to be so guarded. . . but yes, we all do. I never approach people on the street. . if they come up to me and ask me for money or food or information, I will give it. . but i don't get too involved and i won't get too close. The only time i really ever got close to a person on the street was that poor, legless, handless man in Ottawa. . I can still see his face. I felt, well, my husband's here with me, and this man has no extremities. . he's in a wheelchair, he's 98 pounds. . he's not going to hurt me and i let him hug me and hold my hands with his stumps. He was the sweetest -- i'll never forget him. I'm careful - its okay.

lindsay said...

Yeah, I guess the armless and legless guy is pretty safe, poor guy. He'd definitely be a candidate for disability benefits, but the problem is, you need to have i.d., a fixed address and certain documents to get that so it's kind of a vicious circle.

Kathryn said...

so true. . it is a vicious cycle. I felt at the time that I wanted to ask him to tell me his story, but I didn't want to make him feel worse, you know? or mad. I think that sometimes people just want someone to hear them and see them. Even though we have to be careful, we can still help others - there are so many ways.