Tag Archives: God

silent hospitals

silence

the hum of the hospital elevator still buzzes in my brain. one of those sounds that puts you at ease and into a comfortable, deep sleep. i remember the furnace in our basement gave off a sound just like the hospital elevator’s hum. i was 7, maybe 8, and i wouldn’t fall asleep until i heard the click of the furnace, then the hum that followed after.

mental thumb-sucking, probably.

dave is sitting up in his bed when i arrive, attempting to eat his dinner. pork chops and mashes potatoes. looks decent for hospital food. small cartons of milk and ensure line the right side edge of his hospital table. he really likes milk.

“is it snowing again?” he asks.

i shake my head. “not today.”

he reaches over and removes a couple of books from the visitor’s chair.

“here, sit down,” he tells me.

i thank him and sit. a trio of nurses looks over our way and talk amongst themselves, about which i can’t be sure. i’ve met a couple of them since i’ve been visiting dave. they seem friendly and caring. dave tells me some of the older nurses don’t even acknowledge him, even while administering to his medical needs.

i wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that he’s a homeless man.

dave tells me he received good news from the doctor. one of three infections surrounding his heart is successfully being treated by the cocktail of antibiotics he takes everyday. still two more infections to fight off, though but he seems up to the challenge. i don’t get the impression he wants to lie down and die.

not yet.

somehow, him and i begin talking about ancient historical leaders and the times in which they lived. dave has a few things to tell me about alexander the great. the brief history lesson draws in one of the younger nurses and soon there’s three of us discussing and debating and laughing.

dave has a good hearty laugh at one point, but it’s interrupted by a cough that echoes deep in his lungs. it puts a halt to the conversation. he puts his head back against the upright bed and closes his eyes.

“i could really do without those,” he says.

everything is quiet for a while. the nurse goes back to her station, i listen to the hum from the elevator still trapped in my head and dave rests his eyes.

i lean back to check the clock on the wall.

“you got somewhere to go?” dave asks me.

“actually, i do, but not for a while.”

he slowly nods and smiles, his eyes fixed on the ceiling tile above his hospital bed.

“i stare at the tiles on the ceiling for hours,” he explains to me. “i try to count the black marks on each one, then try to estimate how many ceiling tiles there must be in the entire hospital. i’ll figure out how many black marks this hospital has by the time they discharge me.”

i’m almost certain he will.

i notice a new necklace he is wearing. it’s made of fabric and has something written on the back of the square-shaped wool pendant. it says something to the effect that ‘anyone who is wearing this when they die will not go to hell’. it’s an old roman catholic superstition from what dave tells me.

“a priest brought it by for me. i figured ‘why not?’ it couldn’t hurt, right?”

“you scared of dying?” i ask him.

“not yet,” he says, eyes fixed on mine. “but i’m sure i will be if or when things get worse.”

“ya?”

“ya..”

silence.

i’m hit anew with the gravity of dave’s situation. this is happening right now. this isn’t a movie i can turn off and return to watch later if i want.

“if i grab that necklace from around your neck, yank it off and run out the door, would you feel any different about your present condition?” i ask him.

he laughs at the idea and tells me, “no. this necklace isn’t going to save me. God restored my soul many years ago. i may have been running from him these past years, but he’s not going to undo what’s been already spiritually done in me. it was grace that changed me and it’ll be grace that keeps me until my final hour.”

his back seems to have gotten a bit stronger after saying that because he’s sitting up straight now in bed, not slumping like he was. his face looks resolute as he turns towards me, courage seems to beam from his eyes. i’m not sure what to say or if any words are even necessary.

more silence.

when i was in grade school we had to read john steinbeck’s book ‘of men and mice’. my teacher’s love for the book inspired my classmates and i as we read through the novel together. it was the first book i remember having such an emotional impact on me. during a particularly important moment in the book, steinbeck writes:

“as happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. and sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.”

and, so it was for dave and i as we sat there together in his hospital room, letting the silence do all the talking for us.

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back from the dead

for the first couple days all i could go on were the stories i had heard others tell me. anxiety began setting in a bit, though the anger stood front and center and ready for action. my mind has functioned the same way for so long. you hurt mine and i will hurt you.

my blood boiled inside of my veins.

then i finally saw him.

bruised, bashed, beaten and broken.

before today, dave looked every bit the homeless man he was. he even shuffled his feet in the stereotypical way you might a imagine a beggar doing so. his unruly hair and unmanaged beard also fit the stereotype. he collected cigarettes butts from bus stops to gather up enough tobacco to roll his own cigarettes. his fingernails and teeth stained yellow and brown from his habit.

but that was only dave’s outer appearance. you can’t even come close to judging dave’s book by examining his cover. what he may appear to lack on the outer shell, he more than makes up for inside.

i’ve known dave for almost 3 years now. met him through a few of the other street guys i was working with at the time. dave had told me about the hassles the local police had been given him for panhandling. they had barred him from panhandling in a certain area that was a big money-maker for him. instead of listening to the police, he continued to go back to the spot and work his ‘trade’. a man’s gotta eat.

eventually the police began giving him ridiculously priced fines knowing full well that he couldn’t and wouldn’t pay them. our tax dollars hard at work, ladies and gentlemen of halifax.

dave and i began to hang out and talk on a frequent basis. it didn’t take long for me to realize that dave was a genius. he knew his way around computers like he had created them. his understanding of philosophical and economic matters made me a bit envious at times. geography, history, psychology, sociology, physics – you name it, dave knew it.

and all this without a shred of arrogance or pride.

humble as a hummingbird.

“you are still alive,” i say as i sit down beside him at the table.

“they don’t know how but ya, i am.”

dave’s arm is in a sling overtop of a blue hospital shirt, resting on the left arm of his new wheelchair. his eyes are both blood-shot and his face is a mess, to say the least. his left eye is worse where they hit him with a large rock. dried blood lines his ears and nostrils.

my blood pressure is rising again.

“what happened, dave?” i ask.

in a robbery attempt to take his gst cheque, a group of young adults attacked and beat dave to within an each of his life. they used a large rock to initially knock him down and then their feet to knock him unconscious. a witness to the assault said they had kicked him in the head 16 more times AFTER dave had been knocked out.

sickening.

“but ya know what? i forgive them, or at least my heart wants to forgive them,” dave explains to me. “jail is going to eat those young kids alive. as much as i wish they hadn’t done this to me, i wish they hadn’t done it to themselves.”

all i can think about is what i would do if i got my hands on those punks and dave, even in his pain, finds the ability to forgive those who inflicted that very pain on him.

i’m humbled.
but his story gets worse.

after getting out of the hospital, dave crawls into a cardboard trash bin to make a bed and get some sleep. he wakes up to crashing and banging and his whole world being turned upside down. he then finds himself inside of the back of a large garbage truck. the lid closes tight, shutting off the outside world. then the crushing starts..

can you imagine?!

seriously, try to imagine this scenario happening to you. you get jumped and almost killed in a violent mugging, and then as soon as you are released from the hospital you are thrown into the back of a garbage truck that begins squeezing you to death.

dave talked about the experience in great detail.

he felt his collar-bone snap and his arm begin to bend. the cardboard helped cushion a bit of the crushing at first. eventually there was no more give. pain all over his body. he told me he didn’t know what to do so he began praying.

desperately praying.

the crushing stopped.

he began pounding on the side of the garbage truck with his free arm and yelling for help but no one could hear him. the crushing started again. he began praying again.

it stopped again.

he kept praying desperately that the truck would stop so the driver could hear him and free him from his steel torture chamber. it does. the driver stopped to gas up and hears dave pounding on the side of the truck. he opens it up and gets dave out and to the hospital.

“crazy, hey?”

“no kidding!” i reply. “God must have things for you to do still.”

he nods his head.

“i definitely believe that, lucas. i’m convinced of it now.”

dinner was about to be served at the shelter so i had to run back into the kitchen to help serve but told dave i’d be back after. he smiled and nodded. afterwards we sat and chatted more about his ordeal.

“you sound different, dave.”

he spoke less like a man who had just been crippled by two life altering incidents and more like a man re-energized and recharged to take life by the horns.

“i know. something clicked,” he tells me. “it’s time for me to make some changes, not only to myself but to the world around me.”

i hope he’s the one to lead the revolution. nothing would make me happier.

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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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death, where is your sting?

the past few days have been difficult. africa dying hit closer to home than i ever expected. his passing has me thinking about death more. no, not in the morbid sense. im not completely off my rocker yet. its got me thinking about life and the death of life. big picture stuff.

death isnt really the end. its a new beginning to the rest of your life. well, thats what i believe. i think we live forever and ever, somewhere. heaven, paradise, city of gold, kingdom of God, home.

i know atheists will probably scold me for saying such a thing, but i feel bad for atheists. i really do. genuine pity. if i understand atheism, and i think do, the logical conclusion of its philosophy is that there is no meaning, no purpose, no life after death. not only does nothing really matter nor any truth really exist, but when we die thats it.

what an awful thing to believe.

worm food. lights go out and they dont come back on.

i realize that this isnt an argument against atheism, because something being unfortunately terrible doesnt make it wrong, but it does make it terrible and something that offers very little hope for this life. no thanks, atheism.

id rather see and embrace the hope we have in the gospel. thanks, Jesus.

im going to leave it at that. for now.

i miss the dtes a lot right now. i havent missed it there this much since i first left. i wonder how so many people are doing. i wonder how aj is doing and if he has kicked his addiction. i wonder how elizabeth is doing and if she beat cancer. i wonder how daryl has been and if he has gone home to nunavut like he told me he needed to.

i wonder about many others and wonder when ill go back, if ever.

i hope to.

today i worked the door at hope cottage. eddie had taken the night off and andrew asked if i wanted the gig. no apron, greet everyone that entered the building and carry a clicker to count guests. its even better than it sounds.

cheque day was on wednesday so business is slow. the regulars are all there though and a few new faces. kenny comes in with rap blasting from his cell phone. a few heads in the room turn in his direction and he graciously turns it off as he grabs a tray. considerate member of the community.

skylar comes in for dinner late. he grabs some bread and dinner and comes to talk with me. he finally got an apartment! i congratulate him and we high five.

high fiving is a great celebratory gesture on the streets. i quite enjoy it.

skylar was a youth that was living at the shelter when i worked there. i got to know him there and when he came out to play street soccer for a while. smart cree kid, very athletic, advocate for others, but with a bit of a temper.

he has had housing for just over a month. he moved in just before christmas. good gift from santa, id say. already its helping him. he is taking his addictions more seriously and doing what he needs to do to be healthy. hes staying out of trouble which means the police arent harassing him.. as much.

i couldnt be happier for him!

we talk school and where things are at with that. school is next on his list of things to do but he feels lost. hes not sure where to go from here. i agree to help him figure that out. hes too smart and gifted not to get his high school diploma and give himself a better chance at life. he agrees. he promises to come out for street soccer this sunday and bring his sudanese roommate who loves playing soccer with him.

i hear they start playing soccer in the womb over there. i expect this guy to be good.

skylars big success has me hopeful. even in the midst of death, grief and sadness, theres a lot to be hopeful for. hope for at-risk youth getting housed and educated. hope for my other friends on the street rising up out of poverty. hope for me seeing my friend, africa again (and all the others) on the other side.

bye, grief. hello, hope.

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giving up to gain

there wasnt much to do when i arrived at hope cottage on friday morning.  soup was on the burner warming up, coffee and tea were brewing in their respective pots, and sandwiches had all been made up for the day.  brian make quick work of the morning routine.  i found him at the back of the dining room hall nose-deep in his new book, the hunger games when i came in.  we exchanged a nod and a friendly morning grunt.  yes, we grunt when we see one another.

primitives, we are.

morning meal didnt draw much of a crowd.  gst cheques came in on thursday.  tim came into help serve and we got talking about life.  tim is only a couple of years older than i but with his grey beard seems about 20 years my senior.  i dont tell him that though.  its too soon in our knowing one another to tease about silly things like that.  tim limps a bit when he walks because of an old injury and serves coffee and tea with a giant smile on his face.

thanks for all you do, tim.

after breakfast, andrew asked me if i was interested in making soup.  having never made soup before i decided to take him up on the offer.  but first, lunch.  eggs, chorizo sausages and toast with a glass of orange juice.

mmm.

what looked and seemed like a great combination turned into anything but.  a collective belly ache came over the three of us (terry, our director joined us).  it made for an uncomfortable early afternoon.

never.  having.  that.  combo.  again!

on to soup making.

andrew got me to do most of the work.  something about learning better from doing.  sure, sure, lazy boy (kidding).  he lead me through the process.  boiling the chickens, tearing off all the meat, dicing up the meat, adding spices, veggies and rice, and voila!  chicken rice soup.
ill have to see how the crowd likes it on monday morning.  if any get sick im blaming it on andrew though.  thats legit, right?

in the midst of making soup, andrew and i got to talking about homelessness and poverty in our city.  what i learned was valuable.

a few years back, andrew went on a missions trip to the ukraine.  while there he witnessed what he described to me as the worst imaginable poverty.  it rocked his world and changed his perspectives.  upon returning back home, he felt some personal changes were in order.  he told me he felt a calling from God to give more of himself to the local poor and homeless community in halifax. unfortunately, working two jobs didnt afford him much time to do much of anything. so he did what any reasonable person would do – he quit his jobs.

with ample free time on his hands he devoted himself to volunteering at hope cottage, serving food and helping with whatever he could.  he loved it.  it filled a need in the community while also filling a hole in his heart.  that hole in all our hearts that can only be filled when we love our neighbor as ourself.

shortly after volunteering at hope andrew was asked if he wanted to be hired on as a member of the fulltime staff.  his desire to gives himself more to the local poor and homeless community lead to a completely different career. what a great example of what it looks like to really trust God with ones life; to step out in faith and sacrifice your comfort for some thing much larger than yourself.

inspiring to say the very least.

andrew is just another guy trying to follow Jesus the best he can.  im darn glad we are friends.

“human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” -mlk

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part-time hermit

its 3:19am on sunday morning.  im up too late again.  the white dusting on the roads outside my window is just the beginning of a large winter storm coming my way.  its supposed to bury the city under a big blanket of snow.  im hibernating if it does.

thats a promise.

i think im already becoming a part-time hermit.  my fingers have been feeling itchier than usual lately to write and my eyes cant seem to feel the holes behind them when it comes to reading.  i get glimpses of the reasons why men and women of old would shut themselves in from the rest of the world to be alone with their thoughts; to ponder endlessly the possibilities, acceptabilities and unknown philosophical realities dancing around in their minds.

a few years back i flirted with the idea of shutting myself up in a monastery for a time and a bit.  i thought then that my soul needed some serious alone time.  i still think it does.  i chickened out and didnt follow through.  as much as the thought of going deeper excites me, it also frightens me.  ‘it’s an interesting combination: having a great fear of being alone, and having a desperate need for solitude and the solitary experience. that’s always been a tug of war for me.’

i totally internet-mined that quote.

whatever.  thats what google is there for, right?

i didnt mine the next quote, though:

‘sometimes gratitude – of an intense magnitude – can only be discovered in solitude.’

i have no idea who wrote that but it replays in my mind from time to time.  when i look around at all the blessings in my life – the roof over my head, the food in my fridge, the clean, drinkable water from my tap, the electricity that turns on my lights and warms my apartment, etc – im very thankful to Him who has blessed me, but at the same time i am cut to my heart of hearts because i know that the distractions and noises of my world keep me from the deeper, more real gratitude.

i take so much for granted.  even the air i breathe is a gift that i all too often forget to be thankful for.

large sigh..

mining for another quote lead me to this:

‘it is in deep solitude that i find the gentleness with which i can truly love my brothers. the more solitary i am the more affection i have for them…. solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.’

if thomas mertons words are true, this storm may be just what i need to recharge.

i cant afford to take the time away to stay in a monastery any more but i can hole myself up in my basement apartment for a time and a bit.  who knows what could happen..

details to follow.

hermit

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the big OK

the ‘hope’ in hope cottage is fitting.

the area surrounding hope cottage houses a lot of people who live under the poverty line.  there are two men’s homeless shelters about 5 minute walk away.  theres a womens shelter four doors down and another one 10 minutes away.  several small and large public housing buildings dot the urban landscape.  the public row housing and duplex units are all around the cottage.

we have a policy that we only serve meals to adults.  any kids younger than 19 cant eat at the cottage.  when i asked eddie what that was, i was told it was to protect them.  there are known convicted child molesters living in the area who come to the cottage for food.  kids can get sandwiches to go but they cant stay and eat.  i understand why but its still something thats hard for me to swallow.  why should convicted child molesters get precedence over the kids in the community?  i guess if you dont know all the possible offenders then its better to air on the side of caution.
understood.

a lot of addicts come for breakfast and dinner daily.  alcohol, crack, opiates – most people fall into one or a couple of these addictions.  escaping reality and filling the addiction become the invisible shackles and chains.

invisible slavery.

im not using that word as a hyperbole either.  i mean literal slavery defined as ‘the condition of being subject or addicted to a specified influence.’

it kills me to see what some people will do to themselves and others to fill their addictions and appease their slave owners (drugs).  im sure you are no different.  most of us have had to deal with a friend or family member who had a destructive addiction.  theres a certain helplessness that comes from seeing them destroy themselves..

after talking with some other community stake holders, i came up with an idea.  its nothing original or mind-boggling but i think its some thing desperately needed in this community.  the idea is a grass-roots recovery program for addicts.  redeemed and recovered addicts helping current addicts gain the freedom they need to live their lives more abundantly and productively.

eddie, one of the main guys at hope cottage, is a recovered addict after spending a considerable amount of his life battling substance abuse.  after failed attempts at sobriety eddie explained to me that God came to his rescue.  the physical solutions couldnt fix what was a spiritual problem.

the same thing happened with my uncle, peter.  addictions, too, had plagued him and caused him to spiral out of control and make life decisions that were destructive.  God showed up to him in a powerful way and delivered him from his slavery to substance abuse as well.

both these men call the north end of halifax home and they both have a huge heart for the addicts in their community.

the director of the cottage just gave us the big OK to start a recovery group in the new year.  with the leading of God and behind the incredible testimonies of redemption from eddie and peter, i think this is going to be a powerful opportunity to see restorative justice done in our city.

all prayers and well wishes welcomed 🙂

thumbs-up

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a short ode

before time began
You had the plan
in spite of man
You proclaimed, ‘I can’
because no man can plan
the things you can

im amazed..

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something for saturday

BEEP BEEP BEEP!

815am. ugh.. snooze.

BEEP BEEP BEEP!

845am. how did 30 minutes just go by that fast? i just closed my eyes. this doesnt feel fair. when i push my snooze button i expect to feel like a rest a bit longer. some times (today included) i feel like i lost sleep. how the heck does that work?

coffee will fix this.

quick grocery excursion to grab bananas, oranges, milk and secret items for luke’s famous french toast. walk home is too cold for my liking. felt like -20. why does the wind only come out in the winter time when i most dont want to feel it, but when its summer and humid as all heck the breeze is no where to be found? i could do a top ten list of reasons why i hate the wind but i think that would tangent too far away from the point of this post.

calm meadows.

im going to stop complaining now.

there. done.

kat is almost done with the hash browns as i get home and start the french toast. i usher her out of my way so i can commence cuisine making (aka french toast fantasticness). my kitchen is on the small size so sharing the kitchen with someone else gets rather tight. friends start showing up just as the first piece of toast begins to be frenched. by the time we all have coffee and sitting in the living room, breakfast is served.

mm, french toast.

breakfast in the morning with brothers and sisters is as good as a saturday can get, in my opinion. pretty awesome to come together to dig into the word and push each other spiritually when we could be sleeping in. sets the tone for the rest of the weekend for me.

reconciliation.

peace.

hope.

i live in a society that promises me that consuming and more consuming will fill that hole inside of me. consume tv, booze, music, cell phones, internet, etc, etc, ad nauseum.. many people buy into it because they feel they have to place their hope in something. the promises are almost too much to ignore. we want more so we consume more. gimme, gimme gimme. what are we left with? hope hangover. the buzz doesnt last. the high isnt high enough.

of course its not!

hope cant be found in cars, cribs and cash. we were made for much deeper things. when will we realize that? we werent meant to wade in the shallow end all our lives, and yet some of us are content to sit there with our intertube around our waists and water wings fastened snug around our arms, dreaming of the day when we will go swimming in the deep end. stop sitting in the end where everyone pees and splash your way out to the open waters.

forget the rat race. if you dont compete, you win. sounds backwards, i know, but trust me on this one – stop running. ‘seek the things that are above’, said paul from tarsus. he was a man who knew a few things about true hope and where it is found. good man to take advice from.

seriously, stop running. look up. our redemption draws near.

thats something to place our hope in, over and over again.

marantha!

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music from the streets

‘you’re lucky you’re married to God or else i’d scoop ya up’.

sister jovita (or sister jo, as she is usually called) hears this line several times a day down at the drop-in she helps run in the basement of a church. monday to friday her and other nuns in the city run an afternoon drop-in for the homeless; offering sandwiches, cookies, fresh coffee and a warm place to rest for a few hours. every man who has been to sister jo’s drop-in has fallen in love with her gentle nature, witty jokes and compassionate heart. it doesnt take too long talking to her to fall in love yourself.

i know this because it happened to me too. thats why when she asked me to come to the concert for the shining lights choir and help with security i couldnt say ‘no’.

i dont think she hears ‘no’ very often.

so i head down to st patricks church the next evening (saturday) for the concert. theres an amazing piper playing outside the church, greeting people as they enter the main doors. inside, a large throng of people mingle around the large catholic church waiting for the concert to begin. i run into norm, a street guy i know from grace street mission, who happens to be playing guitar for us tonight. hes an incredibly talented guitar player and song writer. im pumped to hear him perform. norm lives at one of the mens shelters around the corner and music is his passion; his therapy; his beautiful contribution to many peoples days. we catch up a bit before the concert begins and part ways with the tentative plan of grabbing coffee soon.

after a few lead up acts the shining lights choir comes on stage to perform. ive seen them before but the choir has grown a bit, with new faces in the crowd. leonard, having gone out for a smoke at the wrong time, rushes down the center aisle and finds his spot before the first song starts. leonard is one of the first guys i met on the streets here in halifax. his huge, half-toothed smiles always brought a big smile to my face, and his lame jokes that he thought so funny did as well. we share similar first nations roots and a love for pancakes with lots of maple syrup. leonard collects cans and bottles to supplement his meager social assistance cheque. he says hes happy with his life. the way he belts it out when he sing, i believe him.

the choir sings half a dozen songs and leaves to a standing ovation. you can see the giant smiles on their faces as they take their seats. encouragement and support from the community around you is an important thing. one of those most. the shining lights choir is getting a big dose of it on this night.

norm sits down with his guitar next and gives the crowd a short introduction to himself. the mic isnt working right so we dont hear it as well as we would like. the song he plays is an original ive heard him play a few times before at grace street. its powerful and real and makes me think he could write and play music for a living. he should and he probably would if his addiction would just let him go. he, too, leaves the stage to a rousing standing ovation.

regardless of the overall donations brought in that night, the night is a huge success, not because of some money figure reached but because authentic community was lived out and for that, no money figure can compare.

it was said by a famous composer that ‘music can change the world’. im not sure i believe that but i do believe that the music i witnessed last night changed a few peoples worlds last night.

one of those being mine.

thanks 🙂

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