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Monday, October 18, 2004

 

Cecilia, You're Breaking My Heart

I’ve now come across to Toronto. I had a great time in Calgary and didn’t prepare myself at all for the next part of this adventure. I certainly am feeling a little more alone now going into the big cities of Toronto and Chicago alone, but that’s part of the fun. Toronto is a complete different flavour from Calgary. You’re met with the Northeast’s modern edge, with the unwholesome neighbourhoods.

I thought I’d booked a hostel in the Kensington area in Chinatown which is cooky, but with social problems on it’s doorstep.

My first step in Toronto was to get some food and watch some baseball, so I headed down to the Skydome by the awesome (not in the American slang sense of the word) CN Tower. The Skydome was dead but for the half open Hard Rock Café, where I thought it would be a hoot to watch this historic game for the Boston Red Sox. The bar staff stayed open for me, the place was dead and less than the spectacle I’d imagined. I realised at this point God had other plans for me in Toronto and it wasn’t to supply me with my romantic idea of watching a crucial baseball game in one of the homes of baseball.

I walked the streets of Toronto after this to get back to my hostel half way across town. I felt a real heaviness and was completely challenged as I passed each homeless person meekly chattering for change. I had no change; I didn’t even want to buy one of these guys a coffee. In this spend, spend, spend culture, I’d hardened myself and I hated it. But it’s easy to do, isn’t it?

So as I passed this one lady crouched down with a crutch by her side, something happened. I can only say that the Holy Spirit did something as I had become hard. I walked on by and then I heard her plaintive cry, I made an about turn. What could I do? I’m now short of any Canadian cash and have no clue what to offer. So I start to talk. I listened. I listened for about an hour to her story. This woman called Cecilia the drunk, was just opening up her soul. Maybe I was too probing, but something in me told me I wasn’t. I felt awkward and strange, but she too is a stranger in her own city. Cecilia is a First Nations lady, with kids and a husband east of the city. Her drinking problem has taken her from that environment. She’s been living on the Streets of Toronto for 3 years now, and day in day out manages to get enough alcohol to keep her going. She despises it. It only takes her 20 minutes to raise $40 for funds each day as she sits begging. I found her not whilst begging, but beside a cardboard box in Chinatown. Next to her was her ‘brother on the streets’. I didn’t meet him; he was out cold from the drink. As I scratched the surface some more, I learn about a car crash Cecilia had a year ago that has wrecked her leg. The damage is extensive. I’m so overcome with this lady, as tears roll down her face, I sense the only thing I have to offer is prayer.

Cecilia accepts this as if it’s the most important thing anyone has ever done for her. I even get to lay my hand on her hand as she offers it to me. She used to go to mass as a teenager. After I pray a prayer of toil as I struggle for words, Cecilia prays a prayer of confession and acceptance to Jesus. I needed not to prompt these things. She asks Jesus to stop her addiction. She comes to Him as a woman who is used to calling out His name, yet it seemed as if this prayer was different. She tells me after that she prays often, but doesn’t believe in it, but tonight she offers, felt different. I tell her the Holy Spirit has come upon her and that she need to pray that again and again.


I was reading Douglas Coupland’s latest novel, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ earlier in which the lead character in the book talks of being trapped by a body. This is what Jesus did in being incarnate. It is also too, the frustration Cecilia had, and she was open about it. I told her of the hope in Heaven of our resurrection body. I too look forward to this day. No longer limited by a body tired, energy sapped. What this body will look like is up for grabs. Physically, I’m sure it will still look strange. Jesus after all, still had marks in his flesh, but the Spirit will be free, free to fly from this limited lump of particles. Hope is an amazing thing. God’s glory came on me tonight, Thank you, Lord.

Please pray for Cecilia, she needs our prayers. Pray that she finds love, peace and provision.

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