I’ve done several writings on how to end this short story. It’s been difficult, to say the least. What message did I want to convey? And I wanted to keep it simple and encourage everyone to perhaps reach out just a little more. Doesn’t have to be much. We all get so caught up in the commercialism of the Season. Sales signs woo us and we think of the delight our loved ones will experience.
I know what I try to infuse into this time of year. So here is the final installment. Have a very happy holiday!
My daughter and I were preparing to turn in for the night. She was sitting on the sofa brushing her teeth watching the late evening news. A muffled voice called, “Mom, come here! You gotta see this.”
With face towel in hand dabbing my freshly washed face I walked out into the living room. The newscast on the television was from Steamwork’s restaurant.
“…it’s been really quite remarkable what’s been occurring down here. All of this was apparently inspired by an anonymous poem that was left with one of the servers last Saturday afternoon. The server and a fellow co-worker later came up with the idea to share this with their customer base and Dennis, the manager here was very supportive of the idea. As you can see it has gone viral down here.”
The camera panned the restaurant. Walls were filled with napkins and the place seemed to be in a total party mood. The newscast flipped to a camera outside the restaurant. There were lineups at both entrances. Servers were coming out offering hot chocolate, coffee and light appetizers to the waiting crowd.
The camera then switched back to the inside of the restaurant.
“I am here with Dennis who manages Steamwork’s. So this is really something…”
“Yeah, we never saw this coming. It’s been fantastic! We’ve raised a lot of money for local charities, which we’ll be dispersing on Tuesday. You know what has blown me away is just how everyone embraced this idea….its been really moving, really something to be part of..” then he trailed off looking around the restaurant. Turning back to the reporter he smiled, “And I just want to thank the person who wrote that little poem….I… I’m going to go and make sure…” then he turned a moment later giving a server a brief pat along with a word or two and continued on.
“And there you have it. Miracle on Hastings St. I must tell you the energy down here is unlike anything….” she smiled then, “back to you Chris.”
Kristen smiled. “That’s really cool.”
“It certainly is.” I replied.
I must tell you, I was quite overcome at seeing what my little poem had inspired. I was humbled by it. For a moment in time, that little napkin had somehow carried an energy resulting in this beauteous magic of the human experience.
I thought of some the books I’d read that had altered my path. I thought of some of the people I had met that had enough of an impact, however fleeting, to make an impression and give me a sense of hope.
And somehow the brief writings on a napkin had touched something so deeply in so many.
Then I thought of Jay.
When I was sixteen I had lived on the streets for a brief period of time. I had panhandled hoping to get enough money for a $5 hotel room in the Downtown Eastside. I can recall sleeping in beds with sheets that were so soiled, all the washing in the world could not take the stains away. And I had wondered if I would ever feel clean again.
To many I was invisible. Yet, the other day I almost walked right by Jay. I really didn’t want to stop. Didn’t want to take the time and I know that each time I do stop and help someone, the feelings I experienced rush to the surface. Perhaps that’s why I’m always so torn. And its hard to watch and to see the desperation, the fear, the despair and the pain in someone’s eyes.
But I do know that a kind word, a smile, a coffee or a sandwich offered can make a difference.
The following day I called Covenant House and spoke with Rick. Jay was doing well. They were hoping to get him interested in school again and they had a room there for him. They were assessing his situation but he was safe and they would do what they could. I thanked Rick and asked him to give Jay my best and Rick said he would pass along the message and thanked me in turn.
And maybe, just maybe I had provided enough of an impact to give Jay a sense of hope. That was the prayer in any case.
Love and forgiveness. If you think about the man’s whose birthday inspires this season and the message of his life, those two attributes pretty much sum it up for me. It was a lesson I learned a long time ago and work steadily at improving upon. So I will end this tale here.
Merry Christmas to all of you and may the New Year bring many blessings.
And who knows, maybe one day we will have Peace on Earth. Always I must believe that its possible.