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Monday, December 30, 2013


This 7 letter word is something that possesses more power than one can, well, imagine.

Ever since I was a small child, my parents always told me I had an active imagination.  But picture a world without wonder.  A world that does not allow us to fathom things beyond our comprehension.  To put ourselves in someone else's shoes......

When I moved to Alberta in October of 2012, little did I realize what was in store for me.  Armed with only two suitcases and no plan, I had left my little crab shell of a life that I had known for most of my life.  It is not until one is alone, is there mind free to embrace the realm of possibilities and ponder what is in store for each one of us.  I was in a new place, surrounded by strangers.  A world very different from the one I left. 

That first Christmas here, I was alone.  I had come across a group on Facebook for volunteers for an annual community Christmas dinner for those who were alone or less fortunate.  I felt the need to go and lend a hand.  What I witnessed is something I will never forget.  At 12 o'clock, people started making their way into the basement of the church, where tables were set up ready to feed the masses.  Men, women and children filed into their seats, some looking around, almost in awe at what stood before them.  The volunteers stood in a line in front of the buffet area, until everyone was seated.  It was everything I could do to hold back the tears watching the crowd seated, waiting for their meal.
After the minister said grace, the most beautiful thing happened.  One by one, they lined up waiting to be served.  I was manning one of the food stations, and with each one that went by, I made sure to look them in the eye and give them a warm "Merry Christmas" blessing.  I did not look at them with judgement or prejudice.  But with compassion.  These people are someone's children, mother, father, aunt or uncle, grandmother or grandfather.  How they came to be at this point in their lives is more than one might care to know.  But just for a minute......stop.  And imagine what it would be like to be without a home.  A car.  A warm bed to sleep in each night.  A place to go to the bathroom.  No hot shower.  It is really hard to comprehend such a thing.

So many people just pass by day after day, like they are invisible.  The longer I am here, the more aware I am becoming that homelessness in this city is indeed a reality.  It weighs on my mind every day.  I drive the streets and see people lying in the snow, trying to find shelter in these bitter winter conditions, wearing the familiar blue and yellow jackets handed out to them by goodwill. They trudge along the sidewalks, heads down, seemingly embarrassed.  They line the walls outside the casino, liquor stores, hoping for someone to spare some change.  I know a lot of you have the same mentality when it comes to giving money to them. "Well they'll only spend it on booze anyhow."  My question to you is can you blame them? Imagine having nothing in your personal belongings, rummaging through trash cans outside of restaurants to find your next meal, being afraid to close your eyes at night for fear of someone beating you up, every day being a living hell.  A real life Groundhog Day.  If a $5 bottle of booze will help ease that pain for even a short while, I would probably drink too.

I know not everyone is going to share my views on this.  But that's ok.  We are all entitled to our own thoughts and opinions.  The message I am trying to relay is this:  Take a look around you.  Take stock of everything you own and love.  Now close your eyes and imagine it all being gone.  Imagine being cold and hungry and alone.  People are sometimes victims of circumstance.  Anyone of us could be there in the blink of an eye.  These people are just that......people.  They all have a story.  One that I would personally like to hear.  Maybe then, just then, we can stop judging others and do like my tattoo above says.....Imagine.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will live as one