by Charlie Cavanaugh.
"Radiance of beauty! Beauty of radiance! To look into each other’s eyes and to give thanks, for what other purpose do we walk this earth?" Someone, I don’t remember who, wrote this to describe his delight in looking into the eyes of a child he loved.
Since my return to Regina, seven years after I left for another assignment, these words have echoed in my heart many times. I will give a few examples.
Very early in the morning, a day or two after my arrival, I stepped outside and walked into the back alley behind Marian Centre to stretch and breathe the morning air.
One of our Brothers Christopher was walking across our parking lot and looked over at me and said, "I know you! You were kind to me." He reminded me of his name, "I’m David, and you were kind to me. You told me I was a child of God!"
I was so moved by this man’s remembering me seven years later and by the beauty of what he shared so unexpectedly and with so much feeling at this quiet moment of the day.
I did remember David well, a man who has suffered a great deal because of his mental and social handicaps but whose radiance and charity has survived and grown.
Doreen Dykers (my fellow staff worker here) is an enthusiastic gardener.
There are lovingly tended flower beds on all sides of the building, and the outside of Marian Center is looking better than I ever remember it.
However, caring for the flowers is only one of the things that happens while Doreen hoes, weeds, and waters.
Local children—and sometimes adults, too—find her at work and hang around to join in the fun of it or just to watch her having fun.
I was introduced to these children and in numerous encounters with them, I delighted in their smiles and in the delight they found in "helping" or watching Doreen at work.
One of our close friends and regular volunteers is Maria Garzona, who is from El Salvador and speaks very little English. Moving to Canada to be with her son and his family was difficult for her. She has left all that was familiar to her to live in a place where she does not know the language.
Almost every day we are open, Maria comes to volunteer in our kitchen where we enjoy her silent presence and her beautiful smile.
And, through translation by her close friend, Hugo, (another member of the staff, who is from Colombia) we enjoy something else that she brings.
"Let’s hear a story from Maria," Doreen or Nancy Topping will say, and after overcoming a little resistance from her, we are delighted by a tender, funny, or even a bit outrageous, story.
Sometimes the beauty in someone’s eyes is well hidden behind his or her pain and anger.
We see and hear this pain and anger especially in summer when windows are wide open to the noises of the street and the heat makes life even more difficult for those who come to us suffering from addiction and other dysfunctions.
One hot summer day, Nancy and Trudy Moessner (another staff worker) decided to brighten the atmosphere of our soup kitchen with music. Nancy played her violin and Trudy her guitar, and they filled the dining room with beautiful classical melodies.
After eating their meal a number of men lingered, pulling up chairs, and listening intently.
Yes, despite their suffering, there is a radiance of beauty in the faces of the people in our inner city neighborhood.
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