Second Chances

He shuffled along the street, the leaves and the garbage keeping him company as the cold winds swarmed around him. Snow nestled the curbs. A single piece of paper with a crest on it caught his eye. At some point in his life architecture had been a passion, and insignias, shields and crests had been the pièce de résistance of buildings and times gone past. Hidden treasures of intricacy; an artists or tradesman’s one opportunity to create something everlasting, something of meaning, something of beauty. Symbols of power, of growth, of stability and of lineage; if a building had a crest, gargoyles and ornate entrances; it was a building worth studying, worth appreciating with time and reflection.

To look at him, one could never know the complexity of this man’s thoughts. One would never have guessed the depth of knowledge or passion of his man; nor the breadth of his experiences before the street. What was evident was this man was struggling and beyond that no one cared to look.

He picked up the paper and turned it over; a church bulletin. A soggy flyer, propaganda, directions for the sheep. Gum neatly placed in one corner, doodles in open spaces and multiple creases as someone referenced the hymn book numbers, or compilation of sheet music, at the appropriate time before being shoved into the back pocket. The Lord’s Prayer. The piece of paper in his hand represented an hour of someone’s time now cast aside. A pastor’s week of work now cast aside. For a hundred others he wondered what it represented. For this man it was symbolic of a life cast aside.

How prophetic; Matthew. Matthew 6:34 – ‘each day has enough trouble of its own’ was how he lived is life.

It amused him that a congregation had to be reminded not to allow themselves to worry. More by chance than by choice, he didn’t care much about a lot of things and therefore he didn’t worry about a lot of things. Perhaps his next meal, perhaps warmth, but not much more. He saw people smiling and hugging each other as they left the multiple churches of the Hamilton core; what worries could they possibly have?

How long had it been since he attended church? He’d been to a few sermons this winter past, but more for the coffee, the warm and free breakfast. He wasn’t sure he enjoyed how technology had crept into the fabric of worship. At one point he had enjoyed singing, but now the words were projected onto a screen for those with good eyesight, glasses or those not embar- rassed to sit up front. He wasn’t sure YouTube videos enhanced or detracted what the pastor was saying; to him it disrupted the flow, the continuity and the stimulation just confused him.

He put the paper in his pocket for some reason, as he really didn’t particularly care if garbage blew across the road, the side- walks or the lawns, the city. Perhaps the insignia, perhaps the Lord’s Prayer, perhaps Matthew 6:25-34, perhaps because it was time to try again.

He began to be optimistic, to have hope. He put his hand in his pocket and wrapped his fingers around the paper; a tactile reminder that, maybe opportunities were always out there. This did not hap- pen by chance, he could feel the difference this time. Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” was a message he had chosen to ignore. Perhaps a week would give him enough time to build the courage to go back to church; perhaps next Sunday.

He took the flyer out of his pocket and he looked for the address, the pastor’s name and the phone number that would inevitably be there. He turned it over a couple times and was surprised to find none. The email addresses were bolded and underlined but as one who had no home, no computer, it was evident this was another dead-end. With one last glance at the insignia, one last look at the Lord’s Prayer he threw the flyer back onto the street with the leaves and the garbage. He shuffled on; he couldn’t bring himself to ask for help again.

Perhaps we, who can, should take the first step. Perhaps the second as well.

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