St. James Anglican Church
I got redirected. I was walking by a church and noticed the door open. I parked my shopping cart outside and walked in with my garbage bag. Incense and a nice melody filled the air. The smell and the vibration from the choir gave me a positive eerie feeling.
Once I entered and familiarized myself with my surroundings, I was greeted by a woman named Alice. She was very kind and warm towards me. Needless to say, this church made me feel welcome right from the start. I believe that some of the homeless attend this church. The other church I went to, on Christmas Eve, was anything but as welcoming as this one.
Alice walked me up to the altar where I “ate the body and drank the blood of Christ.” There were maybe twenty people gathered here for this Sunday ceremony. After the ceremony, Alice told me that there cookies and tea were offered on the second floor. She insisted me on joining them.
When I entered the room upstairs, I noticed a Hispanic man sitting by himself at a table. I was drawn to him. Armed with a cup of tea in my hand, I asked him if it was OK for me to sit next to him. He was staring out the window – trapped in deep thought – when I asked him that question.
Joe (not his real name) was probably in his mid-40s. I do not think Joe was homeless. However, his main concern in life was the cost of living. With prices rising every year, a man has to work at least two jobs to sustain oneself. He said that having more than two jobs is suicidal and one can’t enjoy life with that amount of slave labor.
His view on marriage was rather bleak. His girlfriend of five years had two other boyfriends on the side. It took him a while to realize this too. He thought very highly of her before he knew the truth. I don’t blame him for having a cynical view. If I had the same experience as he did, I may as well have the same viewpoints as he has. Using that analysis, it becomes really hard to blame anybody for anything. Joe reaffirmed that having a “Cu-Cu” wife will destroy one’s life, but having a nice one is probably one of the most important things to have in this world.
The next topic was about how most of the children lack discipline today. Kids are too wrapped up in a fictitious world of virtual insanities. They treat their cell phones as their most prized possessions without being appreciative of everything they have in front of their own eyes.
He wanted to know whether I watch TV or movies. When I told him that I haven’t turned on the TV for over two years, he nodded and then said “I guess you like reality then.” I smiled and agreed with that statement whole-heartedly.
I like the human interaction without the fake glorified life that TV shows and movies portray unrealistically to gullible viewers. To be honest, the only kinds of movies I watch are documentaries. I am not here to philosophize whether the notion of reality is real itself, but I’d rather deal with what is in front of me right now. The homeless are faced with reality day-in and day-out and, therefore, have a greater perception and realization of life than most that are immersed in TV, computers, phones and other electronic devices. Lastly, there are not any scripted speeches, no elaborate special effects, no studio sets to be seen in alleys of the Vancouver Downtown Eastside. There are only real people dealing and discussing real issues.
Nevertheless, our conversation started to turn. Now, it was time for him to ask me all the questions. I gave him my short introduction of myself and why I am here. I think it scared him, because he said “you have a home and you are here now?” Right after I nodded, he left. I can definitely see how some feel uncomfortable with this idea.
After he left, I grabbed myself another cup of tea. I sat back down at my table, this time alone, when one of the fathers of the church came to greet me. His name was Father Matthew. I praised his church by stating that they made me feel welcome here. I went on saying that I respect and love all kinds of religious philosophies and that I would not single out any place of worship over the rest. He listened attentively and then asked for my name. He programmed it into his phone and then went to socialize with other people.
One thing that I have to mention here as well is that the church’s location definitely contributes to how “authentic” these believers are. It is located in the heart of the Downtown Eastside. Not only were there homeless people taking part in this ceremony, but more wealthy people were present as well. This church was representing a broad spectrum of individuals with respect to their economic class.
Jacob (not his real name) was a wealthy man who walks from the West end to this church because he felt that this church was more aligned with his belief system than others. Jacob came up to me while I was writing in my notebook and introduced himself.