Years ago I went to the priest Brian Massey at Our Lady of Lourdes. I was no longer a practicing Catholic but I went to discuss my lack of faith especially around how to help people. (And we also fought for weeks about 500 years of oppression by the Church. )My biggest question was how to treat people who are on the street. Father Brian who worked in the Sherbourne and Wellsely area had a parish that served 70,000 people who lived under the poverty line. He worked at Covenant House and had lived in Jamaica offering comfort to the families who had family members on death row. (They actually had to bury the men who had been executed. ) So I thought given his history I was going to get some big answers. He said, “Make eye contact – let people know they are seen.” I wished he had said something easier. I am no longer Catholic, but I have however haltingly practiced this concept for 30 years. Sometimes I chat with folks, or just say hi. Sometimes I record their stories. To see people and say to people you may think you are lost but I see your humanity in there even for a second is right. Today I handed out socks. A simple act. There was a man on street who was freezing on Princess Street Kingston and I said, “Hey man do you want some socks?” ( I often get a fuck off.) But this guy said, “Please. That would be great.” And then I said, “How about a pair of gloves?” “Wow ya, dude thank you.” We tested out a couple of pairs to see which kind fit. And then I went on my way. We had a moment. It was a small act where two hearts met as equals. Not with me as the helper, and them as the helped. Not with pity or disdain. How often do we meet someone else’s need with a lack of mercy? After I went over to Street Health and received another bunch of thank you’s. “No one ever donates here.” And they did what almost every body I have helped does: They said, ” Can we share this stuff with the shelter over on Montreal?.” ( People always try to pay it forward) I can’t tell you the times people share what they have been given. Friday there will be more socks to hand out thanks to you all. And if the stats are predictable there will be some fuck offs coming my way. Last year on Christmas eve I dropped some stuff off at Sistering and some ladies called me “A fucking craic sister of C-U- Next Tuesday:
For some reason, this still makes me laugh. Good alliteration and the cold weather will keep you humble.
To donate to our secret Santa Sock Fund- e-transfer email@example.com. ( Thanks to the elves we are up to $530.00 as of Nov 23/2022)
Western Tour coming up in February. North Van, Bowen island ( Tickets on sale next week) on Kimmett.ca
New 6-week writing class starts January 15th. I have something pretty exciting planned. ( Please email me to sign up early for the discount and we will have fa ull class)
My name is Knud Petersen
I heard you tonight on CBC radio. You are very very funny with well paced delivery.
I also volunteered on streets like your story .You are going to be a big star .
And I went to Napanee High school with Dale Kimmet