Snippets of Hope..... in Uptown!

I often have a tendency to fall into melancholy; as I look at my surroundings, it's easy to dwell on all the negatives, the oppression and the constant injustice that floods the streets of Uptown! But this summer, I want to focus my attention on little stories or snippets of hope, flowing from the streets of Uptown!   

Here's one from last Thursday....

Last Thursday evening, our family went down to Clarendon Park with Darrell and Laura for a picnic. After eating, we took Cyrus and Muriwai down the block so they could run around in the playground. As they played, we adults sat on the park bench chatting. 

From behind, a lady who's a little older than I, limped up to me with a big smile on her face and said, "hi Jeremy!" I did a double take and exclaimed back, "hi Tamara! It's great to see you". She shocked me! I hadn't seen her for well over a year, and there she was, standing beside me, looking good and healthy, watching over her granddaughter.

Tamara and her boyfriend both used to be homeless, living under a local viaduct in the winter of 2012 - 2013! Tamara was horribly sick and used to rotate in and out of hospitals and Emergency Rooms. I believe it was only by God's mercy that she survived that winter, as she would huddle under a huge pile of blankets in an attempt to stay relatively warm. I used to go down there, and supply them with the NLOB plastic bag mats, other essentials and offer as many services as I could! 

That winter, she was waiting for one thing: housing! Due to the severity of her disabilities and illnesses, she qualified for subsidized housing. She was within sight of it that whole winter, but several bureaucratic nightmares kept delaying her successful movement! A few of us from different agencies wouldn't let this opportunity slip past her, fade away or perish. We kept making important phone calls for her! We were not going to allow her to become invisible! We knew how sick she was and how she needed her own crib to get better and survive, so we kept her visible!

And then finally, about 18 months ago, as the weather was starting to defrost, Tamara moved from the cold harsh reality of the Wilson Viaduct and into the comfort and security of her own place! And there she remains to this day! 

As I spoke to Tamara for about 15 minutes, I was struck by the power of her story! I was struck by how her despair and loneliness had radically transformed into a story of hope, love and togetherness. Here she was, looking healthy, reconnected with her grandchildren and telling me all she does in her new life! She was happy, utilizing Uptown's parks and enjoying her family. She once seemed so lost, so weak and so sick, and yet now, she seems to have found new life, strength and health. 

As Tamara limped away, holding her young granddaughter's hand, I realized that this picture gave me hope. It should fill us all with hope and joy!

As Tamara disappeared, I was once again reminded of how hope can arise out of even the darkest, coldest and hopeless scenarios.  

As I sat there reflecting on my brief encounter with Tamara, I was also reminded of how her story reflects the power, essence and hope of the Kingdom of God; the very Kingdom Jesus brought to earth: when all seemed utterly hopeless and lost, Hope and Love shone through and gave New Life. 
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