Salomons: Just another face on the street

What do you see as you walk down the street? I know that if the wind is blowing or the rain or snow is being driven, we all hunker down and hurry to our destination. But what about on a nice sunny, windless and all is well with the world day?

Our steps are light and our heads are lifted to catch all of the rays of sunshine, so now there really is no hurry in our steps.

At times like this, what do you see and take note of? Is it an executive type with a slim briefcase and a hurried step of self-determined importance? Or a well attired young secretary with a purse in one hand and a sheaf of papers in the other with a very businesslike and purposeful walk?

I remember people like lawyer Herb Fielding with his bushy hair; loaded down with papers and case, muttering to himself as he strode to the courthouse; I remember fellows like Basil Dickie in his black greatcoat, (even in the middle of a hot summer’s day), cap pulled down over his face, hunched over, checking the gutters for cigarette butts. The only time you ever saw his face was when he would lift it to one side whenever you offered him a new smoke. Also we had a mentally handicapped, older, bushy-faced man who would stand on a street corner handing out Bible tracts; he was nicknamed Jesus.

Of course many are the folks we would see walking along, some we would even greet or maybe even just smile at, but this is different from the original question; what do you see? Do you look into the eyes of those you pass by, or is there so much going on in your own head that you look but don’t really see?

In early December I wrote about a fellow who we know quite well, (or thought we did), that we found having laid in bed for a week or more because without our intervention he would have stayed there till he passed away; he was full of cancer. As it turned out, he made it to hospital and then a hospice where he died peacefully and thankfully had a few visitors.

He was unique on the street; long, matted hair, torn, dirty clothing, hunched over as he walked along the street, sometimes arguing with himself. You would never look into his eyes, because he never raised them to yours. As well, there are many more like ‘George’ who shuffle along the street who’s eyes we will never see for many and varied reasons.

In a larger city such as ours, the pace of life gets more and more hurried and as a sad result, we see less and less of each other, at the very time we should be looking for more. When we lose sight of each other, the results are what we have on the streets today. You see, when eyes are no longer searching out your eyes, all accountability leaves and people are free to indulge in any action that gives them self-satisfaction. I always remember my dad’s eyes when I had done something wrong; it seemed as if they alone could be punishment enough.

I may be totally washed up on this issue, I sometimes feel that all the services we provide to those who through self-indulgence are now totally addicted, are merely Band-Aids. Somewhere along the line, they lost all eye contact with those who could and should have helped them to control their cravings and who have left them to be:

Just another unknown face on the street.

Chris Salomons is a kitchen co-ordinatorfor Potter’s Hands ministry in Red Deer.

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