Monthly Archives: March 2013

community heals

nothing like a good day lived in community to pick up my spirits.

street soccer was great the other night.  good mixture of young, talented foreign players (who actually passed the ball) and our street guys.  everyone seemed to have a blast.

i had an opportunity to talk with kal tonight for a while.  he has been coming out for the past 5 weeks and wowing everyone with his talent and skill.  he’s a resident of the shelter i worked at last year.  after recently graduating from a local university in engineering, his mental health failed him and he found himself forced to stay in a homeless shelter.

his story, as sad as it is, happens more than you know.

that’s what happens when the majority of people in our society are so ignorant in regards to mental health issues, and when the province spends less than 4% of the health budget on mental health services.

back asswards.

i don’t feel like i’m talking to someone who has a severe mental health issue. kal speaks intelligently, articulately and without any weird social ticks or abnormal behaviors.  his reasoning not only sounds good but is sound.

kal is from the middle east.  born in palestine, raised in syria, he moved to canada more than a decade ago with family.  soccer was one of the only constants in his life.

i asked him about his family and friends back in syria (he didn’t have any in palestine anymore).  the pained looked on his face was hard to miss.  communication with many of them had been cut off.  he had no way of knowing how they were doing.  no idea whether they were dead or alive.

his solution: going back.

i had no response to that.

what am i supposed to say in that moment?

am i supposed to tell him that his country is being decimated by a ‘civil war’ that has lasted just over two years?  am i supposed to tell him it’s too dangerous to go back there?

(it’s my opinion that it’s not a civil war but a proxy war between the west and the middle east.  the documented support of the syrian free army by the west and mercenary soldiers from west-friendly middle east governments paints a pretty clear picture.  i digress.)

he probably knows this much better than i do.  he has been able to hear from some relatives back home in syria.  the story they tell isn’t a pretty one.  the  mainstream media in the west doesn’t accurately represent the situation over there.

big surprise.

i try to put myself in his shoes.  what if it were my family and friends caught in the middle of an illegal, proxy war?  what would i do?  how would i feel?  what would i do with those emotions?

my problems don’t seem so big when i think about what kal is going through.

street soccer goes later than usual.  no one wants to stop playing.  for kal and a couple of the other guys, they can’t stay too late or they risk not having a bed down at the shelter.  it’s become warmer out but still drops well below zero at night.  not having a bed for the night would mean a sleepless night.  when you’re dealing with mental health issues, going sleepless is the last thing you need.

kal gives me an apologetic goodbye.  i tell him not to apologize.  i understand.  a warm bed is more important than playing the final couple of games.  he thanks me, we pound fists and he leaves.

rest well, kal.

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pushed around

this week can’t end fast enough.

i had breakfast with one of my mentors this morning.  eggs benny as usual.  i was tired from having not slept well the night before.  mind racing and refusing to rest.  distracted from sleep by frustration, anger and a slew of other emotions i’d rather not list.

there have been only a few weeks during my whole life where i have actually questioned my desire to continue doing outreach on the streets.  this past week was one of those weeks.

to be honest, some times i hate doing this.

as rewarding as many of the relationships i’ve built at street level have been (some have changed my life), very few of them have been easy.  not by any stretch.  yes, all relationships take time and effort, but building them on the street usually involves much more.

more patience.

more love.

more grace.

some times i just don’t want to give more.

some times i just want to get a regular job, work with regular people (is there such a thing?) and have a regular routine.

no more visits to the shelter.

no more hanging out at the soup kitchens.

no more anything street related.

why i am saying all of this?

i’m tired.

i’m tired of having to always be the strong one.  tired of putting on a fake smile and talking about sports or complaining about the weather.  tired of having to project strength when inside i feel weak.

i’m tired of pretending i feel ok inside when that’s not how i feel.

underneath whatever veneer i consciously or subconsciously project, i hurt just as easily as everyone else.  maybe more.  i just don’t allow it to show.  project strength not weakness.

it’s a facade.

i’m broken like everyone else.  i’ve got to accept that eventually, right?

i was betrayed this week.

it wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time, i’m sure.

that last matter-of-fact statement is more veneer, as if i don’t care.  i do care.  i care more than i’m willing to admit.  it’s not because of who it is but what they represented.

‘friendship’s enemy is betrayal.’

i was betrayed this week and i lost a friend.

different sides of the same coin.

i allowed myself to be pushed around.  literally.  screamed in my face.  insults upon more insults.

don’t take it personally, i tried to repeat in my head.

but no matter how many times i repeat the cliche-like mantra, it doesn’t work.

i can’t help but take it personally.

fatal flaw or gift from God.

feels more like a flaw today.  tomorrow it may be a gift again.

i’m reading through a book called ‘the cost of community’ right now.  in it the author examines what real, authentic community looks like and the cost to those who venture to build and be part of it.  tough times are a given, the author argues.  real community doesn’t come about without blood, sweat and tears.  in one part, which i feel speaks to me the most considering my past week, the author says, ‘resist the impulses for vengeance (gossip, slander, etc) and retribution and follow the radically risky and sacredly foolish path of peace and love.’

that sounds nice and all, but i’m tired and find it hard to care right now.

i need a vacation.

or maybe just a decent sleep.

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bob the bus driver

my alarm clock ring is the most annoying sound i could find on my phone.  it had to be in order to wake me up because when (if) i get to sleep, i’m out cold.  it makes for waking up not the most pleasant part of my day.  add to the mix that i’m not much of a morning person (at all) and some mornings it’s down-right sinful when the alarm goes off.

this morning was one of those mornings.

the bus that takes me to work is a 15 walk from my place.  not bad.  the walk gives me a chance to wake up a bit.  it’s been a good time to get into some prayer and start my day off centered with the right frame of mind.

‘morning, fella.’

‘morning, sir,’ i replied to the bus driver.

i grabbed the daily paper and took a seat in the back of the bus.  the bus hadn’t left yet and no one else had boarded.  i took up two seats on the right side bench and made myself comfortable.

‘you just getting off work?’ the bus driver asked, as he made his way down the aisle toward me.

‘no, sir, just heading to work actually.’

‘what do you do?’

i told him and we got rolling from there into conversation.  his parents had run group homes for many years here in halifax, something he said that had molded him into the man he was today.  when i asked him if his parents still worked in group homes, a frown dropped his face and he sighed a large sigh.

‘my mother just passed away two weeks ago.  it’s been a hard a month..’

a much stronger man than i.  there’s no way on God’s green earth that i’d be back at work two weeks after the passing of my mother.  i’ll be a wreck for months.  his tone seemed pained but his demeanor was solid.

‘she’s in a better place now, anyways.  no more suffering.’

he had found acceptance in her passing.

he went on to tell me about the faith of his mother, how she had been the rock of the whole family.  he attributed it all to her strong faith in God.  she was a dedicated community volunteer on as many fronts as she could put herself on.  if someone needed help, she wasn’t far away.

it was really quite endearing to hear this man, my bus driver, talk about his mom with me.  i could tell that he had really loved her.  that he was so willing to talk about it with a perfect stranger really surprised me.  maybe i shouldn’t be anymore.  this seems to be a trend happening in my life.

i’m not complaining.

looking down at his watch, he said, ‘looks like we better takeoff before i make you late for work.’

good call, so off we went.

i decided to move up to the front of the bus so we could continue talking.  for the next 30 minutes we shared as much as two people can in such a short period of time.  he talked about his kids and retiring in 8 years, i told him about my new job and moving to halifax from vancouver.

fast friends.

‘hey, thanks for talking with me this morning,’ he said to me. ‘it was just what i needed to start my day’.

‘me too.’

as we pulled up to my stop, we said our goodbye’s and realized we hadn’t properly done our hello’s.

‘by the way, my name is lucas,’ i said, with my hand stuck out inviting a shake.

‘nice to meet you, lucas.  i’m bob.’

bob the bus driver, and my new friend.

‘hopefully see you again, bob.’

‘it’s a small city.  i’m sure we are bound to see each other again,’ he said with a smile and a wink.

i hope so, bob.  thanks for making my day.

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keeping promises

‘i promise i won’t hit him.’

these were the first words i heard as i entered the new place i’ll be working at.

welcome to your new job, lucas.

yesterday was my first day working at colonial community living, an organization that runs small options group homes (independent living facilities) across halifax.  i’ve been hired on as a mental health counselor to work with individuals who suffer from developmental disorders, mental illness and intellectual disabilities.

i was told during my interview that clients can be aggressive with counselors.  one female counselor had her jaw recently dislocated by one of the guys.  it’s not his fault nor was it hers.  aggression, though not typical of everyone who has autism, is found to impact many lives of people who deal with the disorder.  many times it’s the reason people come to live in group homes, as their families find it hard to live normal lives with the aggressive nature of autism.

the words of my new client ring in my head as he comes over and gently shakes my hand.  his hand is a bit limp and quite cold.  he smiles bashfully and turns to run back up the stairs.  my first meeting with tony (name changed) is pleasant.  i hope his promise holds up.  at least for today.

i sit at the kitchen table with two of my co-workers as they describe the job to me.  there’s a lot to know.  each guy that lives there (there are 3) has a million things to know about them.

crash course at the kitchen table.

tony rejoins us, this time showered and ready for breakfast.  my co-workers tell me he’s like clockwork.  his body will wake him out of a deep sleep in order to eat.  he’s much more structured that way compared to the other guys.  getting tony to eat is as simple as putting the food in front of his chair.

kinda like me.

tony and i get talking.  his nervousness disappears quickly.  he’s skinny and has salt and pepper hair.  he smiles and laughs a lot.  i like that.  he tells me about his paper route that he does on wednesdays.  he delivers 200 papers to the local neighborhood.  he has to roll the newspapers and bag them before he delivers them and he’s not fond of doing that.  i tell him that i’ll help him and he smiles big again.

sam joins us a little bit later.  the counselors have a tough time waking sam up in the morning.  he bangs around upstairs for a while

before pulling up a seat at the table to eat breakfast.

‘hello, lucas.  my name is sam.’

sam puts his hand out to shake mine.  his shake is solid but friendly.

‘hi, sam.  pleasure to meet you,’ i reply.

‘how old are you and when is your birthday?’ sam asks me.

‘i’m 30 and my birthday is on march 27th.’

without a moment’s hesitation, sam replies, ‘you were born on a saturday.’

whoa.

(i called my mom last night to confirm.  it was a saturday!)

my manager told me about sam during my interview.  he can compute numbers in his head faster than a calculator.  i ask him how he did that so fast and he just smiles at me, like he knows some secret trick that he won’t divulge.

tony begins becoming a bit agitated and acts out a bit.  he apologizes and apologizes some more even after we tell him we forgive him.  he cries very loud and then stops.

‘i cried crocodile tears, lucas’, he tells me as the last tears fall from his eyes.

‘yes you did.  do you feel better? i ask him.

he smiles.  ‘i sure do!’

we shake hands again.

next, we head downstairs to where the medication is kept so the guys can take their morning meds.  the process is very thorough to keep mistakes to a minimum.  keeping the guys leveled out is sometimes the difference between a few mg’s here or there.  they down their meds and head back upstairs.  this is simply routine for them.

my co-worker gives me a tour of the house.  it’s a beautiful, open-concept home that has a lot of room for the guys.  their bedrooms are decorated like little boy’s rooms.  action figures, finger paintings, crafts and disney posters line their rooms.  lots of framed pictures of them smiling and laughing.

after lunch, the four of us (tony, sam, myself and the other counselor) head out to deliver newspapers.  a storm is coming so we need to get them delivered soon.  the gusting wind tells us we don’t have long.

sam and i team up to deliver papers down a few streets.  he’s distracted with something in his head.  he can’t figure out why he got last sunday confused with monday.  he keeps asking questions but i don’t have any answers that satisfy him.  my co-worker tells me he does this to himself a lot.  he can’t accept that he makes mistakes.  he beats himself up (sometimes literally) because of his small internal errors.  he can’t give himself any grace.

we talk a bit more on our walk.  i can tell he’s somewhere else mentally but he’s responding enough for back and forth dialogue.  at one point he grabs my hand and looks at me.

‘lucas, i really like you.’

it’s one of those classic moments you see in those tear-jerking, sob-fest movies.  i don’t tear up by inside i’m touched.

‘i really like you too, sam.’

my manager told me that the guys really like having other men around.  most of the counselors are women so they don’t get to interact with men very much.

after we finish delivering newspapers we head back to the house.  a quick snack and its time for music therapy.  a young, twenty-something women brings in a guitar, tambourines and some shakers.  for an hour, her, sam, tony and myself rock out to all kinds of old songs that sam really likes.

it was really fun.

matthew finally gets home around 330 from work.  a couple of times a week he heads into one of the adult resource centers to work, doing small duties around the center.  matthew greets me with a big smile too and a hearty handshake.  he is set on getting some food and talking with the other counselor.  we will have to talk more another time, as my shift is almost over.

tony sits on his giant swiss ball bouncing up and down in the living room.

‘are you leaving now?’ he asks me.

‘yup.  i gotta go home, but i’ll be back on friday.’

‘i hope so.’

sam waves goodbye from his perch on the stairs and tells me to sleep well.

i love my new job.

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wisdom from an elder

‘According to the UN Environment Programme, the Earth is in the midst of a mass extinction of life.’

this wasn’t written in a sensationalist newspaper or on a controversial website.  while certainly left of center, the guardian is not your usual doomsday predictor.  nevertheless, yesterday’s jarring headline reads more apocalyptic than utopian.

a whole lot of nothing is being done to protect the earth from our destructive behaviors.  there has been a lot of big talk and plenty of official public meetings where politicians and figure heads posture and peacock for the masses, but very little has and is actually being done to save us from future ruin.

make no mistake about it, our planet is reeling under our over-inflated superiority complexes.  our forests are clear-cut or diseased from climate change.  our waters are intoxicated with plastic that destroys marine life or radiation from the fukushima disaster.  150-200 species of wildlife are dying each day.  extinct.  never to come back again.

read that again and let it simmer for a moment or two.

200 species!!

an estimated 1 billion people are reliant on fish for their well-being and survival.  as we pollute our waters that destroy ecosystems or over-fish, disrupting other species in the food chain (which has negative consequences that stretch far beyond what our nearsightedness allows), we threaten the lives of 1/7th of the planet, not to mention all the other creatures that we share this planet with.

please notice that i emphasized the word ‘share’.  novel concept for humanity, i know.

yes, i’ve painted a very one-sided picture of climate change.  of course there is much more at play, but for the sake of brevity, sleep and a hankering to rant, i won’t be presenting the other side.

i’m not really sure how to process this latest report.  i do believe it’s serious but how much emotional and mentally energy can i give to something that i feel i can’t really do anything about?

and there’s the rub – most people don’t care (at least not enough to do anything) because they don’t feel empowered to be able to do anything.  it’s too far out of their reach.

thus it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  we don’t feel we are able to change anything so we do nothing and no change is done.

i know this might sound a bit sensationalist but i can’t help asking:

is this how it’s all going to end?

are we really going to sit on our hands and allow our grand children and great-grandchildren deal with this awful mess?   are we going to continue on this trajectory because we couldn’t or simply wouldn‘t  take seriously the signs and statistics staring us in the face?

i desperately want to be optimistic about this and believe that at the eleventh hour a group of people will rise up and take control of the wheel and steady our path, but i’m increasingly becoming more pessimistic that it will happen.

i used to sit and talk with an older coast salish man back when i lived in the downtown eastside of vancouver.  he must have been close to eighty, with a steady dose of stories and elderly wisdom at his disposal.  spending time and talking with him calmed me.

he told me about the conquering of his people by the europeans but never blamed the white man, like many do, unfortunately.  ‘it wasn’t the white man who was responsible’, he would tell me.  ‘it was the lies they had been told were truth.  they had been taught the lie that they were more important than anything else – animals, earth, water, air and other people.’

my old coast salish friend often told this with a very pained expression on his face, like it hurt him physically to tell.

‘not until this lie has been exposed and corrected will my people, or any of the peoples of our great earth, live in a healthy, properly functioning world.  we must learn that the collective – past, present and future – is more important than the individual.

we must learn what true community is.’

if my old friend could stay optimistic until the day he died, i guess i can as well.  maybe there’s some fighting spirit still left in a few of us to make a dent in the armor.

it better be soon, though..

‘never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ – margaret mead

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/17/un-environment-programme-_n_684562.html

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a day at the mission

i’m far too tired to write well right now, so excuse my limited abilities.  it’s been a long day and considering how very little sleep i got, it turned out pretty darn well.

irish came over this morning.  we haven’t hung out in close to 3 months.  a combination of conflict, mental health and stubbornness, we both share fault in.  today we put all that behind us with a couple manly hugs and talking it out.

reconciliation is good.

i’ve begun volunteering down at soul’s harbor rescue mission on wednesdays, so after irish and i caught up we headed down there to help out.  irish ended up volunteering as well so we got to serve alongside one another again.  pretty awesome being able to do that with another close brother.

we got busy fast and stayed busy for the better part of two hours.  indian goulash soup and turkey sandwiches were the choices for lunch.  sandwiches were a big hit.  the indian goulash, not so much.  we couldn’t keep the coffee pots going quickly enough for the demand.

just another day at the mission.

a young fellow around my age comes in with a large, black great dane.  the dog is wearing a backpack of sorts that’s blue and behaves extremely well.  i introduce myself and welcome him and his dog to the mission.  he introduces himself as brad and his large canine companion as staynes, his seizure dog.

brad explains to me that he gets multiple seizures a day and has been affected by them for the better part of 12 years.  a few years back they trained staynes to be his care companion.  apparently great danes can smell seizures ten minutes before someone has one.

this blew my mind!  i’d heard of dogs being able to detect cancer in people but never about this.  having stayne with him enabled brad to live a much healthier and safer life, because when she knew he was about to have a seizure, she nips at his wrists to warn him.  he is then able to lay down and clear himself of any danger.

i make a comment that his dog would have been the ultimate wrestle partner for me when i was a young boy.

‘you wanna wrestle with him?’

i think he’s joking but he looks serious.

‘for real?’

‘ya, just don’t poke her in the eyes.  she hates that.’

so do i.

so he lets me wrestle with staynes.  in the rescue mission.  full-out.  staynes, the 115 pound great dane pup (she was only 8 months old) against lucas, the 200 pound volunteer with a sore back and a bad ankle.  we even have a captive audience.

i win.  still undefeated in all dog wrestling matches.

brad is staying at one of the men’s homeless shelters down the road.  he explains how different it is than the shelter

he worked at back in east van.

excuse me?  east van?

‘which shelter did you work at?’ i ask.

‘first united mission on east hastings.  you’ve probably never heard of it.’

what are the odds?

it turns out brad started working at first united a little after i moved to halifax.  same shelter, even same position.

coincidence, my ass.  this smells a little like divine intervention.

then like that, i’ve made a new friend.  i agree to come down to the shelter later this week to hang out and share some first united stories.  he agrees to allow me to wrestle with staynes again.  round two of lucas vs. staynes.

after brad leaves popeye challenges me to a game of crib.  popeye’s name really isn’t popeye but everyone calls him that because he looks like popeye from the cartoon.  he’s always around the mission hanging out, cracking jokes and playing cards.  he figures he’s suckered me into a game of crib that he’s going to win at.

wrong.

despite my inability to play crib very well (i’m still learning) i win the first game.  he shrugs it off to beginners luck, as do i.  then i win the second game.  he shrugs again, smiles a big mustache smile and shakes my hand.

‘good on yer, boy!  you got me good.  lets do it again next week.’

two games of crib, one wrestling match with a great dane and reconciling with a good friend.
either i have a horseshoe stuck up my backside or God’s blessed me with quite a day.

ps. i don’t believe in luck.

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united as one

as much as i enjoy blogging, i love reading other people’s blogs and seeing their creative ways with words.  there are some very talented writers who fly under the radar without many readers or pub.  it’s a shame.

one talented writer i enjoy reading goes by the name Earthy Monk.  his about section reads as follows:

‘The Earthy Monk is a space for musing on God, messy grace, lavish mercy, authentic healing, wild hope, deep compassion, and social justice.’

check him out here if these things tickle your fancy.

this isn’t intended to be a plug my fellow writer as much as a segue to what i want to share with you.

Earthy Monk recently posted a quote found on the back of a t-shirt worn by a youth in washington, dc.

so far i can’t find the t-shirt online.  drats!  i might have to end making one myself.

*****

I am a Hero…no tights, no funny cape, just a Power greater than this world knows.

I was born with a Purpose.

My mission is before me: to seek Justice, to strive for Peace, to stand for Truth, to comfort the Afflicted, to defend the Powerless.  I strive for wholeness. I thirst for righteousness. I walk through darkness but I fear no evil for my glory is not my own and my strength comes from One Who is greater than me.

The world’s powers may be against me, but I am not alone. I am one among many, we are united as one!

Will YOU join us?

*****

want me to make you one too?

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happy birthday, pax

 

yesterday was a special day.

paxnorth, the church i’ve been apart of for the past two and half years, turned 5 years old yesterday.  we have come a long way.  having started in a small living room in the north end of the city, then moving into one of the local bars in the area, then to a local elementary school, the journey has been interesting, to say the least.

to celebrate our coming of age we threw a large birthday party, complete with streamers, balloons and a big community lunch.  but before the birthday party festivities kicked off, a couple of brothers who i’ve come to develop deeper friendships with made the decision to take the big plunge.

jeremy, one of my small group brothers, decided it was time to get rebaptized, feeling that his former plunge wasn’t what he felt it should  be.  in the presence of close friends and family, jeremy explained what God has been doing in his life for the past while.  he described how God has been freeing him from past hang ups, hurts and addictions.  he spoke about the difference this freedom has meant in his life today.

jeremy is a talented musician and worship leader.  his very presence on stage is like a breath of fresh air.  his heart to lead people into a joyful celebration is really incredible.  he is also a new father to a little boy, levi, who was a miracle to hilary and him.  watching him with his little boy is pretty awesome to see.  he wears his love for his boy right on his sleeve.

if only all fathers could do the same, our world would look different.

before jeremy got dunked under the water, our small group gathered at the front and had a chance to share a few encouraging words with jeremy.  i got choked up like i knew i would.

those finer moments in life always seem to get me.  i’m glad that they do.

irish decided he too would  make the jump into the cold tank on stage and take the plunge.  he shared with the congregation his story, which for those who had never heard it before, was powerful and moving.

irish has been a gangster of halifax and dartmouth for many years, attempting to fill that empty hole inside of him with as much drugs, violence and crime as he could.  he ran as far and as fast as he could away from God.  eventually, through the freedom offered only in the gospel, irish left that lifestyle behind and embraced the life God had been calling him to for many years.

irish and i have journeyed together for a while now.  he has lived with me for a time and has spent numerous hours in my living room talking life, God and everything else that falls in between.  we have shared meals, ideas, dreams and doubts.  we have laughed, cried, celebrated and mourned together.

brothers from separate mothers.

after irish took the plunge, we met in the middle aisle of the room and embraced.  tears, friendship and celebration all wrapped up into one.  i didn’t even care that he was soaking wet.

ok, i cared a bit.

i realize some people reading this right now might have no idea why yesterday was a big deal.  so what?  some guys got wet in a water tank. big deal.  making public commitments are special in their own right (eg. marriage) but commitments to the Creator of all things falls into its own separate category.

happy birthday, paxnorth.

thanks for an awesome day!

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and that’s a rap

i made sure i was ten minutes early for the interview since everyone knows that punctuality on the initial impression is as vital as water is to a fish.  the building wasn’t marked well.  no signage, no nothing to indicate it was anything but a random building.

i knocked on the side door hoping it was the right one and heard footsteps.  a guy in line cook garb opened the door.

‘what can i do for you?’

i begin second-guessing my door choice.

‘is angela here?  i’m supposed to be meeting with her at..’

‘right in and down the stairs to your left.’

old halifax basements were never meant to accommodate men of my height.  pipes and beams made me duck and dodge my way through the basement to a series of offices hidden in an elaborate labyrinth.  part of me started thinking i’ve been duped and i’m going to be locked in a dungeon and sold into slavery.
‘you must be lucas’, said the woman with a soft handshake and a warm voice.

phew!  no slavery.

another woman greeted me as well, then both left the room to allow me to fill out a short essay question before doing the interview.  i thought i was done with essay questions.  bah! the question had to do with a clients mental and physical health and how i would approach the situation. it makes me think back to working at first united in east van and a few of the dirty situations i got into.

some memories are best forgotten.  ugh..

the interview went off without a hitch.  we ended up sharing stories about working with clients who deal with mental health, laughing at a bunch about different scenarios we had found ourselves in, and generally had a good time talking.  at the end of it, angela abruptly added, ‘we don’t usually hire on the spot but we think you’re perfect for mental health counselor position.  it’s yours if you want it.’

isn’t that what we all want to hear at the end of a job interview?  are there any better words?

i can’t think of any.

i thanked the ladies for their time, shook hands again and treated myself to some tim hortons.  donuts always make great celebration food.

after eating my celebratory food, i made my way down to gottingen to visit grace street ministries.  the place was packed and lively as i pushed my way through the front door.  jovial music was playing from the laptop, people were eating lunch and talking, tasha circled around the room with her mop hunting for wet spots, and patty waving her hands around trying to get my attention.

‘i’m SO close to getting my 9 months!  please pray i make it, lucas!’

i’ve seen a lot of patty’s ups and downs over the past two and half years.  addictions rob life of what it is supposed to be.  patty is no exception to this rule.  but, after almost 9 months (her longest period of sobriety) i think she may have found the strength to move past it.

‘you know i’m always praying for you,’ i reassure her.

she smiles a big smile and sits back down on the leather couch.

a fight breaks out outside the front door as we are in the middle of a group discussion.  people are anxious and agitated.  some run outside to see what’s happening, adding to the spectacle.  two drug dealers using fists to settle their disagreement.  not the most creative way of problem solving.

cop cars pull up minutes later and the crowds disperse quickly, because they either don’t want to answer questions (and be labeled a rat) or because no one likes the cops around here. i don’t blame them.  the cops here might be even more corrupt here than back in vancouver.

that’s saying something.

group gets refocused and continues on.  my mind is still dwelling on the fight.  the guy that was attacked was ‘dinky’ (not sure his real name).  he used to come to grace street back in the summer when i was leading group there.  a polite guy around my age with a big heart but mixed up in the wrong lifestyle.  in a violent halifax subculture in the hood, he could be the next guy to make the 6 o’clock news shot or stabbed to death.

i pray that doesn’t come to pass, but i realize i don’t have much say in it.

after grace street i head down to hope cottage to have a meal with some friends.  rock, patty, richard and goula entertain me while i eat a delicious plate of shepherds pie.  the fishing boat that capsized off the coast was from richard’s small home town.  the fishermen who were lost at sea were friends of his.  we give our condolences and say a quick prayer for the families and community left behind.  the silence that follows visibly makes people at the table awkward.

death has a way of doing that.

as kat and i are walking back from hope, a car that doesn’t see us almost runs us over on the cross walk.  we’re able to move out of the way in time and i give the car a boot with my right foot to show my displeasure.  you read that right.

i booted it good, too!

he doesn’t even stop.  this has to be the 6th or 7th time this year that has happened.  halifax drivers are atrocious.

now i sit here in my favorite chair with my laptop on my knees, feeling angry, sad, encouraged, disappointed, excited – i’m a bit wound up and all over the place emotionally.

just another day in the life of luke.

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