It’s in all of us. At times it’s hidden, but it’s there nonetheless.
And as you are about to discover: appearances can be deceiving.
We refinished an antique steamer trunk to be auctioned in aid of the Parkdale Food Centre at the Gala May 1st
When we delivered the trunk, the Centre was filled with the hungry and the homeless: families – men, women, children! – that are unemployed, vulnerable, and often sick; and who work for less than a living-wage. It is these good people who have been sidelined by society, and who rely upon the generosity of the wider community.
One chap in particular was sitting in a corner, looking defeated and forlorn, shoulders sunk. In a word: defeated.
What was his story, I wondered?
Suddenly he raised his bowed head and looked at the trunk I was carrying. His eyes lit-up as he exclaimed: “That’s European!”
“Where did you get that?” he demanded.
I explained that it was an antique trunk we had acquired, and that we had restored it and converted it to a wine-chest, in aid of the very Centre he relied upon.
His eyes aglow; his shoulders high, where a moment ago they were bowed, he proceeded to explain all of the characteristics of the piece; its peculiar European construction and wood; its hardware; its likely age. All of it, in correct terms and detail. He was not now the street-urchin I had witnessed a moment ago.
“How do you know all of this”, I asked.
He replied that his father was an antiques dealer; that he had grown-up in the business, and was now unemployed as his father was dead, and the business lost. The only work he could find was menial labour in this great City of Ottawa; this government town; and the very citadel of the realm.
I was amazed at the contrast of his hobo-like appearance with his intellect. I could easily picture him attired in a suit, ensconced in a high-end antiquities shop.
Appearances can be deceiving, indeed.
As he finished speaking, his shoulders sank again, as the grim reality of his economic circumstance invaded his thoughts and resumed the slow but steady destruction of his soul.
What a waste is all this talent and knowledge!
His story is far from over, for there is indeed a place for this man in our wide community of artisans.
We all have dignity, no matter our station. We all form a part of the community.
“No man is an Island, entire of itself… any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. Therefore ask not for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee.”
– John Donne