He was sitting on the corner of Douglas and Yates panhandling and I sat on the wet sidewalk beside him, “top of the Christmas season” he said. The deep wrinkles, furrows on his face revealed a lifetime on the Street. His layers of clothing over a skeleton of a man revealed the condition of his health. The familiar odour of his unbathed body revealed the suffering trampled down Christ at Christmas.
Yet this man, his humility, his littleness, his gentleness, his openness, his total welcome to all who approached him reveals him as a living disciple, a Guru, a man of wisdom, a deeply spiritual man. I have seen consistently over the years the way he gives away his personal items that he has found, as he has dug then out of the dumpster, offering others the only things he has.
As I sat down beside him he reaches into his worn out dirty backpack that he carries around with him day in and day out. Rev “I found a set of rosary beads in a dumpster last night and I thought of you” as he handed me the rosary with his right hand he closed my hand with his left hand saying “they should be kept warm and close of the heart.”
When we talk about wishing that Christmas was all year round, he makes it happen as he gives his gifts away endlessly. Over the years I have come to realize that he had been offering all of us a bigger gift than the material gifts he offered freely.
He has given all who take a moment to just look into his eyes the gift of touch, with tenderness. It’s this gift he possesses, to touch with tenderness, given freely which is the treasured gift that this modern day wiseman offers to all who have the courage to look into his eyes.
He is showing his age, now near the end of his life. Just perhaps this is the last Christmas he will touch me and others with his tenderness. As I walked away, etched in my mind was his look of his wine colored eyes as he gazed into my heart. They were the eyes of the weary Christ, the feminine Christ, the trampled down Christ, the poor Christ with a gift in his hand freely offered to all who have the courage to be.