My stories have begun to touch the hearts of people in the social services world. A number of well-placed "caseworkers" in the CAS societies around the country have been writing to me how they are using my stories to reach out to young adolescents who are having issues in their lives. I am exceedingly grateful and humbled that my work is being used in such a constructive way to reach out to those most precious in our lives, our youth.
I was called to a meeting to one of the Children's Aid Societies offices to meet with Mrs. Asil. We were to discuss my oral storytelling and how I may be of service to their organization. Storytelling has a powerful impact on young people:
Through sincere love, care, and attention, and the opportunity to use their imagination through storytelling, young people, slowly begin to forget their tragic past and look forward to a hopeful future. The Light withing them becomes the strength and their guide. I was humbled by their gracious call to be part of this sacred help and transition to healing.
For some reason, she spotted me in the crowd and asked me if I would mind her interviewing me; I accepted with grace although somewhat uncomfortable at first as to what her questions would be. She asked me for my name and proceeded to inquire my point of view on how and if I knew of the Playboy magazine and its founder Hugh Hefner; it brought me back many memories of my youth.
There was a time when even the thought of seeing a woman naked in public would lead you to church confession. Having a topless woman standing at the corner of a busy intersection, only meters away from the Children's Aid, society, I thought was in poor taste, to put it mildly.
The youthful interviewer was very polite. She allowed me to express my thoughts freely about the beauty of the human body. I noted that the human body was nothing to be ashamed off for both men and women, young and old. I went on to say that our creative artists explored such subject of study and interest throughout time; a centerpiece of any art form that adorns world heritage museums and art galleries world over. "The Bunny," thanked me politely for my contribution and proceeded to call on others in the crowd for their points of view.
Despite my liberal thinking about such matters, my "old fashioned", indoctrination of worldview, made me uncomfortable with this setting. I proceeded to approach the Afro camera man from the side while he was filming. I whispered in his ear, "I don't know if you are aware but just meters away, is the Children's Aid Society. You might make some people uncomfortable by your presence here. It would be wise if you were to move to another corner down the street." He turned and winked at me as to indicate that he was in agreement. When the interview was completed, he spoke to the others in his entourage, and they packed their equipment in a small van and soon drove off.
I walked over to the CAS headquarters and met with Mrs. Asil. She impressed me by her grace and humanity; her dedication to service and the call of children. I was humbled in her presence and assured her she would have my full cooperation and that I would contribute however I could in helping her organization "reach out" to our youth. We agreed that it would take another meeting for us to work out the organizational details. There was to be another meeting two days later.
I decided this time, not to take my car to the downtown core, so I chose to use the public transit system, the Subway. I arrived about 45 min earlier than my scheduled meeting, so I decided to sit and enjoy the sunshine at a small park just next to CAS.
Approaching a bench that was situated right at the limits of the small Park; I noticed an elderly lady, no taller than five feet tall, sitting at one of the benches. She was positioned between two carts, enjoying what seemed to be a box of sugared donuts. Her two carts were filled with used wear, bottles and "collectibles" that reminded me so much of Andrew from my story, "EPISODEXV - THE WISDOM OF ANDREW".
As I neared her seat, I commented, "You are a very wealthy woman, with all these possessions." She paused looked up at me and remarked, "Are you making fun of my poverty, I could become a millionaire someday." "I am sorry," I remarked, "I meant no disrespect, it's just that you remind me so much of a friend of mine, who is also a collector of sorts." I proceeded to sit next to her bench and became enthralled by her wisdom.
She was of Hungarian descent and had come to Canada when she was very young. To my surprise, she was very well read on many subjects from economics, art, and medicine and even took an interest in my health as a diabetic to suggest a number of holistic cures. The more she spoke to me, the more curious I became in her predicament and how such a talented and wise individual, a signpost of wisdom, was now a homeless person on the street. I sought to investigate further.
When I met Mrs. Asil and mentioned this "Bagged Lady," she noted that she knew of her and "her story"; my jaw dropped when I heard the details. Turns out that her uncle raped our Bagged-Lady when she was young. At the time, some forty years ago, the "victim" was treated as the perpetrator by her family and cast away because of the shame she brought to them. There was no mercy.
We discussed how such youth of today wound up as teen mothers who are treated with much care and support. But non-the-less, such stigma and harm do run deep in our society. Teen Pregnancy has become an epidemic.(Please watch this video: The Teen Pregnancy Epidemic).
When I returned to my apartment, I found myself struggling with many thoughts about The Bagged-Lady. It was time I entered the Elysium, for guidance:
Mediterranean bulbous herb (Urginea maritima) of the lily family —called also sea onion: The dried sliced bulb scales of a "squill" used as an expectorant, cardiac stimulant, and diuretic in medicine found mostly in Pylos.
I soon became uncomfortable at the stares of passers-by and felt that somehow, I was associated with the two carriages and that I was now identified as being homeless. I began to realize how, these "stares of accusation", reminded the Bagged-Lady of her cast in society. Like the untouchables of India, once cast in this stigma of life, there was no escape; humans suffered on this "Island of Shame". I thought of life's irony; with the passage of time, now just meters away, a "liberated Bunny", proud of her profession as a reporter, had exposed herself for all to see. I longed to see the Bagged-Lady and assure her from the Gods, that she should suffer no more in shame for she had done nothing wrong. I thought and waited.
And so it has been my young friends, that on numerous occasions, I have passed by this Island of Shame, looking for the Bagged-Lady. I have asked around for her far and wide, and I wonder. Have you seen her, do you live on such an Island? Have you too been stigmatized somehow by society for some event in your lives, which has been born of your innocence?
If you have, will you look down at her and be critical of her cast in life? Will you identify with her sorrow and speak to her in honoring her with human dignity, seeking her out as a signpost to the Elysian Fields? Will you tell her from "The Substitute Teacher," that her story is now helping our youth seek a safer path in their growth, without shame and much forgiveness and understanding?
( Note, it is July 4th, 2015, next to me in the library sits a wonderful person, her name is Grace. Grace just published her article, My Struggle to Say "I Am Homeless". I want to recognize Grace's contribution and ask that she continue to share her life experience for she is a true, "Guidepost to Wisdom". )
Thank you for your participation.
By Elias Leousis,
(Η αγάπη είναι το μελάνι, η σοφία είναι το μήνυμα.)
Love is the ink; wisdom is the message!
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