Every year from the first Sunday of Advent on, we start to prepare for Christmas. We put up lights, the tree, the crèche and decorate the house. And every year, I do very little in comparison to the rest of my family, i.e. my dad and Steffy. Although I can be excused due to the busyness of school, I know it’s not really a reason to not help out more than I do. (Christmas is also not my favourite season. I like it, just not my favourite). Every year we hang up the same old dinky Christmas wreath. This year, I wanted to contribute a bit more than usual. My sister Joan and I made a quick trip to Micheal’s and bought some craft material to make our very own Christmas wreath. It’s been a while since I’d made anything so this opportunity was a blessing! There really is something life-giving and freeing in creativity! Here are a few pictures!
I still remember August 9th, 2011 as though it was yesterday. It was the start of a year of several graces and surprises.
It was the day I met a beautiful middle-aged woman named Gisèle Boucher.
It was the day I learned to love a human being completely and wholly.
It was the start of a journey of about a year of experiencing and seeing what it is like to befriend a beggar, a panhandler, a poor, a homeless, ad infinitum…(insert any related synonym) all in order to see that Christ truly lives in the soul of each creation.
Each one of us, myself included, living in a city/urban setting especially, have the tendency to overlook things in life. We quickly skim over a text at work without reading every word. We try to get from point A to point B and never notice there are other human beings on the street walking, living and breathing the same air that was breathed in by us from God , irrespective of their awareness or belief of it. We don’t “see” things which are not “essential” in a utilitarian way.
I can’t say (gratefully) that I’ve been totally absorbed in that tendency, but I can admit that I do carry the stain of it. I say this because I do like to look at people’s faces when I walk downtown and smile at them. I like to wonder where someone is going and wonder why someone doesn’t look well. I like to wonder what kind of home they’ll be returning to after work. But that is the working class, public servants mostly. I failed to look into the eyes of a panhandler and wonder the same things I wondered about the others. This changed when I met Gisèle.
Gisèle often begged for money outside St. Patrick’s Basilica, where I attend daily (and now Sunday) Mass. August 9, 2011, I was early for Mass and thought I would spend some time browsing books at the bookstore (where I now work). I walked passed Gisèle, without acknowledging her. But the Lord prompted me to return to her right away and offer her the tub of blueberries I happened to have on me that day. That very simple act turned into a conversation which lingered on for a year and most importantly, a beautiful friendship I never knew or thought possible.
I called her every three or four days to see how she was doing until her phone became out of service and stopped seeing her. Over the course of that year, I prayed with her inside a church, I cried with her, I hugged her, I sat on the dirty streets of downtown Ottawa while she begged, I got nasty glances from passerbys and I met Christ. Growing in my friendship with her enabled me to truly die to myself in so many ways. When I prayed with her, I was in a way praying with Christ. When I cried with her, I was crying with Christ. When I hugged her, I was hugging Christ. When I sat on the streets, I was sitting with Christ. When I got nasty glances, Christ was the one who actually received those glances.
“Whatsoever you do to the least one of my brothers, you’ve done unto me.”
I haven’t seen Gisèle in a very long time. In 2012, I wrote her a four page letter which explained how much of a blessing her friendship was in my life. I never gave it to her because I was not able to see her. As difficult as it was, and regardless of whether she remembers me, her life was a gift to me. I was able to see the King among the beggars and the weak.
Pax et caritas.
We never seem to tire of children speaking.
I mean, I babysit every single weekday morning and am usually babysitting at least one weekend per month and YET, my heart still melts when a child utters a sound or word or makes the weirdest possible sound. It never gets old. It’s such a banal topic but deeply profound at the same time.
I get tired of songs, of colours, of the way my room looks, of clothes….the list can go on and on (and on). But no matter how many times a child says “nimnastics” for “gymnastics” or “woo woo” for soother, it simply doesn’t get old, (perhaps annoying for some, but at least for me, it’s not the case).
I’m babysitting as I’m writing this, and it occurred to me that this baby/child talk is the same way we probably appear to God. He delights in “listening” to us (when we pray). It’s probably cute for him to hear us pray because of our ignorance of how to pray (Romans 8:26). The problem with grown ups or big people is that they are too aware of themselves to the point that they become prideful. Sorry, I should correct that. We, not they.
We need to be unashamed to make ourselves look silly or foolish. We need to be child-like.
Scripture often tells us to be child-like (not childish, as one priest made clear), and this means just being like that child you babysat years ago, who is so utterly dependent on you and not so concerned about projecting him/herself to the world. That child just is.