Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A shining star

Day 12
The 12 Days of Christmas Blessings at the Shelter

On the 12th Day of christmas my true love gave to me....

There are some who suggest that this song is a code. Believed to have been written in the 16th Century, at a time when the religious wars in Britian made it perilous for a Christian to practise their faith. The 'gifts' are said to be code for the most important and relevant teachings of the faith. 'A partridge in a pear tree' represents Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 'Two turtle doves', the old and new testaments. 'Three french hens', Faith. Hope. Love, the three Theological Virtues of Christianity. (Go here to read all their meanings.)

Whether their meaning is fact or fiction, no matter where you are, hum a few bars and someone will chime in and bestow one of the gifts upon you.

At the shelter, Christmas blessings continue to arrive every day. From socks and hats and mitts and jackets, Calgarians are turning up in record number to bestow upon us the things that will make a difference in someone's life at the shelter.

Last week, I went to an elementary school (The photos are placemats they created for clients to use on Christmas Day -- Thank you Battalion Park School!) to give a presentation to students from K-6. At the beginning of my presentation, I always ask, "Do you have a dream about what you want to do when you grow up?" And the students always throw up their arms, wave their hands and call out, "I do." "I do." Doctor. Lawyer. Fireman. Hockey Player. Nurse. Astronaut.

No one ever tells me their dream is to become homeless. Or to become mired in an addiction that will steal everything you hold dear and leave you wasting on the streets. No one ever tells me that their dream is to one day walk into a homeless shelter looking for the EXIT sign to the other side of the street only to become lost in depression and despair.

Homelessness isn't a dream come true. It is mostly a nightmare.

This Christmas, as in year's past, the darkness of homelessness has been lifted by the generosity of those who work at the frontlines holding out hope for everyone who comes through our doors and those who stand behind them, supporting them, lifting them up and ensuring they have what is needed to care for the people we serve.

For our clients, that hope begins with accepting them where they're at and treating them with dignity and respect, no matter where that place may be. For our volunteers, hope is founded on the value our shelter adds to our community -- we create a safe place for those who have nowhere to go except the streets. We take care of those who have lost their place in their family circles. We take care of those others can't or won't care for. And, for our communities, our city, our world, hope translates into a kinder, more caring society. A place where no matter your economic, physical, spiritual, mental or emotional state, everyone finds a place to belong.

It is the 12th Day of Christmas. In liturgical practise, the gifts of the 12 days begin with Christmas and continue for twelve days to the Epiphany.

We've jumped the Magi and moved the gifts to flow into the Christmas spirit. It isn't about when the gifts appear, it is that they appear and cast light upon our journey.

Today, I share a gift from a beautiful woman who wrote a poem for those who walk the streets and those who take care of where they're walking. I've never met Maureen Doallas in person, but here, in this cyber world of words that reveal the essence of the beauty and joy and love within, she is a shining star amongst a heavenly choir of blessings on earth. Following her blog will lead you into a wondrous journey of the beauty and the sanctity of life on earth.

Homage to DI
Poem written by:
Maureen Doallas

not the kind
they know,
yet we know
they know.

Give us shelter.
And shelter we receive.

We need.
And so they provide.

We try.
And they say,
it's enough.

We give what we can
as we can
in return:

Remnants, mostly,
of dreams
we still follow
of circles we've
still to trace

We begin
where they begin
with us:

A hand open
A hand given

It's enough.

Copyright Maureen Doallas


Maureen said...

I am honored to see my little poem here among your 12 Days of Christmas Blessings.

Namaste, dear friend.

The Mess Hall Queen said...

Hi I love your insight. Thank you I learned a lot!
My daughter's best friend said to me the other day, "You may be poor in many things, but you are rich, in Love..." WOW from the lips of a child. That is how she sees me. Money can not buy the feeling she bestowed upon me :)
Hope your Holiday is full of life and love...
mess hall queen

Anne said...

Hi Louise! Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!!

I love reading your blog and learn something either about me, about the people around me the world we live in!! Thank you for the link to the meaning of the 12 days of Christ!! you are a blessing and an inspiration in my life!!

BIG HUGS to all of you and enjoy your time with the girls!!