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Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Night with John.....

Well...It's been 1 year....almost to the day....since I met John. I never did post this story in my blog, but I have been thinking about John alot lately, especially with the cold winter we are having here in Toronto, and so I thought I would share this with you now. (Scroll down for story and more photos)

While on a business trip to San Antonio, Texas, I had the opportunity to meet John......a sweet man living on the streets of San Antonio. I was so drawn to him. God put it on my heart to ask him to join me for dinner. John accepted my invitation. He was the sweetest, most sincere man I've ever met. He was humble and shy. His voice was so calm and soothing.

Noticing the worn clothes on his back, I asked John if he would like to go shopping for some new clothes. He accepted! So off to Macy's we went on a huge shopping spree!! What a great time we had! When it came time to say goodbye, we left each other in front of Macy's. He went one way, and I the other. I got to my hotel room (20 min. walk), only to realize that I had one of his clothing bags with his new jeans! I immediately took off running....where, I didn't know...I only vaguely remember him saying that he lived under a bridge around St. Mary's street. I ran for blocks, in the rain, praying that I would see those BIG white "Macy's" bags somehow in the dark. So much time had gone by, and I didn't know where I was running, but I was so happy when through the crowd, I saw 2 huge white "Macy's" bags!! And then I got a glimpse of a long, dirty trench coat, and a man with grey & white, scraggly hair. I couldn't believe it! I was out of breath when I caught up with him.

Now standing outside a McDonald's....he graciously asked me if he could buy me a coke. He wanted to buy "ME" a coke?? I accepted. I knew that my night with John was not meant to be over yet. We sat and talked about so much.

Now it may sound like John was blessed by this, but truthfully, I was the one who was blessed. I wanted to share this with you....this is not about me....this is about someone we would normally pass on the streets, which I have done so many times, but I am so glad that I had the opportunity to get a glimpse into this sweet man's soul....which resulted in a wonderful evening.

I believe success is measured in a different way...not the typical world's way of material posessions and status, but who we are on the inside when life doesn't quite go the way we would like it to. John's kind heart taught me that. He was not a bitter man.....only a humble and very loving man.

--- I was truly blessed .

While I believe that giving money as we pass someone living on the streets is helpful, I would encourage anyone next time to maybe speak to them, or even have a coffee with them. You will be surprised at how your thinking will change in alot of areas........and they will not forget the time you spent with them....which means so much more than a few coins.

---What an AWESOME night! I will always remember "MY NIGHT WITH JOHN".

Silvana ~

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Anonymous Ryan Rowell said...

I am so happy to have read this post, as it brings back memories of the time I was stuck in Paris France. Canada 3000 had just gone bankrupt and my return ticket was then void. Looking for the last few drops in my bank account at an ATM machine, I was introduced to Gabriel - a man living on the streets with his puppy. My account had no money left in it and so I was unable to take any, but the man asked in about 4 different languages if I was able to spare some change. Jokingly I admitted that I was in the same situation as he was, and decided to offer him some conversation and cigarettes. I was surprised at how accommodating he was and forthcoming with great conversation. We talked about politics in Canada (to my surprise he knew quite a lot more than I did) and peoples attitudes towards his lifestyle. Gabriel even went as far as to try and get me some help at the local American church, I declined his offer but appreciated his every effort to help. We must have talked for an hour or two, and near the end of our conversations he asked me for a simple favor. He asked me if I was able to stay and hold onto his dogs leash and watch his bag while he went into the bank to use the washroom.
To this day I chuckle every time I think about how silly I must have looked to everyone in the streets of Paris. I was dressed with a nice leather jacket, dress shirt and pants, and nice shoes; sitting on this mans pillow holding his bag in one hand and the leash in the other. I watched people passing by look at the scruffy little dog and spare change cup beside him, then their eyes would follow the leash and reach me. I suppose for begging I wasn't dressed the part, and the looks received were not pleasant.
It has been since 2001 that I talked with Gabriel and find myself still wondering how he is doing.
Thanks again for this post.

February 17, 2008  
Blogger aboutimage said...

Great story and beautiful images.

February 17, 2008  
Anonymous jeff said...

Great story, I think that God really put this man on your heart, and you listened to his cry. What a heartwarming story.

I follow your work as I am also a local to Toronto photographer. Your work is truly inspiring!


February 18, 2008  
Anonymous Daisy said...

I am so touched by your story. I think you're an AMAZINGLY gifted + generous person + I only hope more people (including myself) will take the time to step outside of their comfort zone, reach out their hand to help others, and/or just speak to someone they wouldn't normally speak to. Your story made me realize how "selfish" I can be. I will try harder to think beyond my needs. Thanks Silvana.

February 21, 2008  
Blogger Maria said...

That is such an inspirational story! To quote mother theresa " we cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love."

You are beautiful in and out.

Much love from Atlanta,


February 29, 2008  
Blogger shipra said...

I don't know you but am so moved by who you are as shown through this story. You are one of my absolute favorite photographers and it pleases me to no end to realise that you are a spectacular person on the inside too. The images you took of John are so powerful. As always, you have a knack for processing your images to fit the mood.

March 07, 2008  
Anonymous erik clausen said...

wow silvania,
i love this story. and that first shot of john is wicked!
Jesus says when you feed the poor, you feed Him, right? we should all pay more than a cursory look at the downtrodden.

hi shipra!!

March 30, 2008  

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