My work gets me around the city of Vancouver a lot. Vancouver is a great city; it has a vibe a rhythm. There are the early morning dog walkers in the Yale Town district up at 5:30 am with all of the dogs sharing the few trees in the park for bathroom breaks and the Lulu lemon yoga pant clad 20 something women going to or returning from their yoga classes with a rolled up mat under one arm and yes, a latte in the other. They busily bustle along with an air of importance and a “look at me” attitude. Men pour out of the Gyms too (A few have those yoga mats) but most are freshly pumped up from free weights and they Jog. This is one of the nicer parts of town. The people here are well off, motivated, highly effective; some are singles, some family people.
Further on just a few blocks north there are the shopping carts the people sleeping in doorways the high traffic back alleys that are shared by the homeless for bathroom breaks (You have to be careful where you step). There are the 20-50 something men and women who have no place to lay their head, with a cigarette- butt- rollie in one hand and yes a shopping cart in the other. If you were to continue north and a little west (Which puts you into the East Hastings area) you would find yourself in the heart of a homeless population that knows few biases related to race, colour or background. It is a scary place, people yell at each other; they yell at themselves, they yell at unseen persons too. They fight over items in garbage bins (they steal things from each others carts.) The stories of how they came to be here are as varied and interesting as any you will hear. This is the not so nice part of town. The people here are hopeless, the often forgotten, the surviving.
That’s North of Yale-Town but if you were to head west a few blocks you would find the early morning streets a-buzz with the hospital staff of St Paul’s Hospital scurrying around coming on or off shift or slipping out to get a Starbucks wearing scrubs and walking and talking together so fast they look like they are in fast motion. They really are busy and they’ve been busy all-night long. These people are the serious, task oriented, concrete thinkers. Likely they come from elsewhere but they are woven into the fabric of the city on a 24 hour basis. Hospitals never go on break.
If you head still west up to Davie Street not much happens until after 7:00 am this is a bedroom district, old apartments, with restaurants, deli’s, coffee shops that open later in the morning. This district continues North on Denman and circles around to Robson. The people in this area are bohemian, activists, progressive, New Age, Taoists, bicycle riding transit users, artist, writers they have student loans, and are either gay or have gay friends attend various rallies and the pride parade.
Then comes myself a (delivery man) I come into the city and travel from area to area within the city, I know the city but am not of the city, I am part of the city rhythm, yet I am a stranger. I have observed that as I meet and come to know individuals within the city, the rich, the homeless, the busily employed, the freethinking bohemian, there are moments when you see that all men and women have a longing for something more than they have at present, a deep yearning for more, a resting place for the soul, an ultimate relationship. Every time I see it in them I remember this statement of Jesus, in Matthew 11
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The hard part is sharing the message. It offends the sensibilities because it is attached to the knowledge of God, it strikes against our pride, it calls us to turn from lifestyle practices and replaces our values with a higher standard. A relationship with God draws boundaries and will require change. I have come to care about the people I serve as a delivery person and those who are put on my path. I want hem to experience the forgiveness that leads to life and relationship with Christ. these are the people on my path.
Who are the people on yours?