We were crossing Yonge Street at Dundas. In front of the Eaton Centre there were several street preachers all with signs about God's Love and Jesus' Life. They spoke through very tinny speakers, they spoke of love, oddly, with angry voices. As we went over to get a hot dog, Ruby holding tight onto my hand, I had to guide her through the messages. I hoped, fervently, she wasn't hearing them. "Deaf," "Blind," and "Crippled" were words flung into the air - typifying the lives of non-believers. On the other side of the street a young man was talking about how the culture was promoting hoMOsexULAITY which was a sign that we were in the end times.
I was frustrated at hearing disability used as a metaphor for sin and sinners and homosexuality used as a sign of ultimate evil. I was angered that children were hearing this kind of hatred. Those people who would disapprove of Joe and I caring for these two little girls were the very people we wanted to protect them from. I don't know if that is irony but I do know that it saddens me deeply. Ruby still believes that God's primary job is to love. She thinks that Jesus is a nice man who love all his children. I want her to know that God for as long as she can before she meets the God whose message is blared out on street corners with fury as a motivator and discrimination as a constant theme.
The day before I had been driven to work on a bus with a man with whom I had a powerful hour long chat. In the course of that chat he mentioned his faith but once. I knew he was a Christian. Once he did that we talked about a variety of topics and God did not intrude, or need to be praised, even once. God was always there, like a friend listening in, but his presence was in the tone and the texture of what was being said. I knew this man, from our talk over that hour, to be a gentle man who loved his children, loved his wife, loved his church and loved the role he had in the lives of others.
He never shouted.
He never angrily denounced worldly sin.
He used metaphors that were kind - of sun, and spring, and hope.
This was a man I would have loved to hear preach. And, in effect, I did. Because he knew that what he said and how he said it, what he did and how he did it, were more important that a biblical quote or a passed on condemnation. I arrived at work having been edified by the conversation and I found that I kept coming back to different parts of what was said over my day. I told Joe as much as I could remember of what we talked about.
It was hard to reconcile those people with microphones speaking to crowds who rushed away from their hatred and their anger with the gentle man who drove my bus to work.
One fellow called to me as I went by, "I'll pray for you."
It sounded like a threat.
That can't be good.
But I resolve to think less of them on the street with microphones full of hypocrisy and more of the man whose voice sounded like each word was crafted in kindness.
I admit however, that's hard to do.