Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In Stark Contrast

Saturday night we were invited by special invitation to a 'black tie' concert/dinner in Vancouver. It was a concert featuring world renown tenor, Ben Heppner, along with the MEI children's choir and concert choir with orchestra.

The evening was a mix of " Songs from the Heart" , but here is a snippet of my favorite song of the evening .. "How Great Thou Art" recorded on my camera.

The concert was a display of the beauty of God-given talent and man's diligence in perfecting the gift.

We had never been in the Wall Center where the concert was held in the Grand Ballroom. It was overwhelmingly huge... obviously no money spared in design , construction or staffing.

The hundreds of people who came dressed as befitting a black-tie event.... were expressive of what the world can offer in luxury and affluence - a blessing if managed in a godly way. Not all people blessed with this world's goods do.

By 11:30 the dinner was over and people were beginning to leave. Vic and I slipped out as well to try to find our way back through a confusion of floors, corridors, elevators, escalators, twists and turns. Surprisingly, we did find our way back to our car through the maze of underground parking and drove back out onto the streets of Vancouver ... only to encounter the other extreme of society.

The homeless had taken over the night streets in the part of Vancouver we had to drive through.

It was overload for me..

I looked … and looked at the many people who were drunk or high on drugs or propositioning… or trying to find a spot on the sidewalk to sit… among discarded junk or possessions …or loitering in a corner park - no where else to go... claiming a bench for the night. The ‘darkness’ was sooo real you could feel it .. and the street lights did nothing to dispel it.

How people can live like that is so beyond me… I can’t understand… My heart breaks and I am so repelled at the same time. The filth, the sin, the depredation, the poverty … the absolute ‘lostness’ of their souls and lives… how can it be??
Who am I to judge ? and yet .. why ? they live in a country of choice and freedom and opportunity … where and when did they begin the spiral into a literal hell ?

One girl in particular is imprinted on my mind.

She was walking along the sidewalk.. I first caught sight of her from the back…. (we were stopped at a red light) And I feared for her safely walking among the street people sitting or leaning… in groups or by one or two .. against the stores, or buildings. I hoped the policeman we had just passed talking to a group of men sitting on the sidewalk was not too far away.

She passed two men… and I watched to make sure she would pass safely .. then they said something to her.. she turned back , walked over to them and grasped their hands. It was then I looked into her face and saw she was high on drugs. She was soo out of it that I’m sure she did not know what planet she was on.. Her head movements were so unnatural… her facial expressions soo strange - why is she caught in this lifestyle ?

I wondered if I could walk among these people and witness to them of the love of God.. and I had to admit that I could not. My voice is not the one they would relate to or hear. It is not my calling .. but my heart broke and I wished that they had made better choices, that life circumstances had treated them more kindly. I prayed that God would send someone to tell them there is a God who can forgive them and make them whole.

There was such a stark contrast between the ‘black tie’ people dining in a luxurious banquet hall…. and the dirty, drug-dazed people on the street.

I was happy to come back home and step back into my world .. which is neither of the extremes I had witnessed.
I am indeed blessed … I love where God has put me.. and I am so thankful that I am rich and secure in Him instead of lost in the darkness this world offers - but my heart lingers on the thought .. how can I hide in my 'bubble' when the world is full of lost and needy souls?


Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Oh Julie...I just listened to your video one more time...and have goosebumps once again. What an amazing evening it was!

You are so right...we who have much...have much to be accountable for.

Anneliese said...

Those two stark contrast overwhelm me too!! How is it possible? I try to imagine being one of the people on the street and seeing someone driving by in a nice car. What would I be thinking? But with so much baggage, would I be able to even think that it would be possible to leave that life? Probably not. Our wish if for them to know an be saved and know a better life, but what will make them understand?

Lovella said...

We've driven through the same streets and I can never become desensitized to all that we witness. .nor should I.
It is so sad. . .and so scary to think that they all once were little children. .many of them loved. .and through a series of bad choices they have ended up there ..
Much to think about.

Elsie said...

What a wonderful concert that must have been! Magnificent. Thank you for recording a little piece of it for us to hear! I too am perplexed at the contrast between such beauty and peace, and such ugliness and turmoil, existing side by side. No easy solutions on that one.

Marg said...

You captivated it well. I loved the video clip. I saw him longer on that clip than in real....
I was disappointed, but enjoyed the music....(I could not see, not even the pianist.)
What a contrast. You hit it on...How can they make such choices.

James Janzen said...

Hi Julie
I can see why you would enjoy such an evening. I'm glad you were able to enjoy your evening out. As for the homeless, it is hard not to judge as each has their own story. It is estimated that 1/3rd of those on the street are there due to mental illness and have no one who cares enough to care for them. Personally i believe that number is much higher. I'm sure glad it isn't my job to judge them.

Anonymous said...

I have often found myself in the places you were this weekend...leaving a lovely evening somewhere and driving home only to find my heart aching for those who have found themselves in such a lost reality. Many of us have not felt 'the call' to walk among them and yet many like you and I have prayed as we have passed by and God does hear our prayers. He also has called others to minister in that 'unique' place of identification and He is alive and at work...changing one life at a time. Kathy