Updated: Sep 21, 2019
Let's call him Charlie.
Charlie was sitting on the steps of this Church washing his feet with a water bottle when I first saw him. He had a small towel ready to dry his feet and he was humming to himself. A slim man, with a beard and long face and someone who has many stories attached to each of his wrinkles. His shopping cart was interesting: it was neat & tidy as you could see his tent, cot, pillow and blanket nicely folded on the bottom undercarriage. Numerous bags of things were placed well organized inside the cart where one could tell that he placed things in order of value, a poking stick that he uses to look thru trash cans hung off the cart 's handle and then the biggest, fluffiest brown teddy bear that one could possible own was placed on top of the cart almost too big to stay on top. The bear was the one that you would buy your little 3 year old daughter and come home with it, so she would think you are the "best daddy in the world". I walked by and smiled. Charlie seemed harmless. I went on with my night and when I walked back, his cart had transformed into a tent and the bear & Charlie were nowhere to be found. I could hear a soft man's voice inside the tent singing to himself and perhaps the bear. I could only imagine that once Charlie had his tent set up that he crawled into the tent and flopped onto the bear as it would hold him all night.
The doors of the Church were locked.
I suppose Charlie isn't supposed to be there. I suppose that someone will ask him to go to the Drop-In Center, or he will be asked to move - probably north towards the Bow River where many find places to sleep embedded in the bushes and foliage. I suppose someone from the Church might stop by and offer help. Or a person passing by might drop off some money or food to help him along with his journey. Not really certain, as most of us these days are not prepared to stop and help in fear of our own safety.
On this warm summer evening, what is apparent is that Charlie just wanted to be close to God.
The doors of the Church were locked.
A nurse asked me a question during my time in a US hospital last year. More of a riddle perhaps? A middle age, well off women and a homeless man both come into Emergency at the same time. The women is wearing decorative high heels with a nice dress, perfect hair & nails with all the fix'ings while clutching her Coach purse with one hand and breathing deeply into a brown paper bag. She was just at her 1-year olds birthday party and the cater messed up the day and didn't show up. Her sister was suppose to bring the cake and was running late and her daughter cried when the clown showed up. All her 50 guests were appalled by her lack of planning and disappointed with the whole function. The homeless man had been picked up by the police and dropped off. He smelt of urine and his left foot had severe frostbite. The nurse had seen him before, as he had his right-leg amputated last year due to diabetes and was using a wheelchair to get around.
The question the nurse asked me was - WHO DO YOU TREAT FIRST?
Apparently, this was a question that a crisis counselor had posed to the nurse and other medical professionals during a seminar. The answer was to treat the women first as the homeless man is a survivor and he has built-in coping mechanisms to survive whereas the women doesn't. I must have sat up all night pondering through that one. Perhaps this was the way the US folks do things.
As for Charlie, his coping mechanism must be his faith in God & his bear? It didn't matter that the doors of the Church were locked.
I was curious to know if Charlie had a Spiritual Awareness that I could learn from? He looked so happy that night on the steps of the Church like he's been there before and quite confident that he could set up in the little space on the edge of the steps. Me, personally I would have helped the homeless man and perhaps he would help me?