Posted by: Darrell Johnson | November 7, 2009

a conversation with Santa

So I have a “to-do” list (believe it or not) and one of the things on that list is to blog more. I’d love to blog more, it’s just I never get to doing it. So this morning I opened up the front office/day shelter with the intent of typing out a blog…the intent was there so much that I brought my journal in the office with me, which had a list of possible titles and topics to blog about and then he walked in. It was Santa. He came to the front desk with something on his mind, and then out of nowhere he said…”I like to people watch, ya know?” I then thought to myself, of course you do after all you got the list that you’re always checking twice. Only Santa could get away with being such an avid people watcher…right?. The answer, obviously, is “NO;” only God is omnipresent and omniscient (as to whether or not he has big white beard…I’ll leave that up to the folks who care about such to keep on investigating/debating such.)

My conversation with Stanley (not really Santa, sorry folks) was interesting. Stanley’s been coming around Jeff St. now since I began my year-long mission here, nearly two months ago, and it’s been great getting to know him. His big faded blonde beard, coke bottle glasses, and jovial smile are quite noticeable; if you were to walk into Jeff St. you’d know exactly who I’m talking about. As a matter of fact Stanley shared with me this morning, an account in which he was walking down the street and some children yelled out the car window, “Hi Santa!!!” He told me that he gets that a lot, I asked him if it bothers him, to which he grinned at me and said, “No, I don’t mind…I enjoy it.” But it’s not just his physical characteristics that stand out, it’s more so the way he treats people. Stanley is very respectful of people and does not wish to cause a scene or be heard or anything like that. He keeps to himself and is always thankful when we are there to hand him his bowl of cereal or help serve the occasional hot breakfast. He’s not socially awkward, he’ll talk with you if you want to talk with him and he’s generally got something interesting or insightful to share whenever I have the pleasure of talking with him.

This morning Stanley and I both realized that we were becoming more than mere acquaintances, but we realized that we both could come and talk to each other about pretty much anything (or at least that’s how I feel). This was established after a discussion we had about people being grateful for the assistance they receive from places like Jeff St. and the interactions that our guests have with our volunteers who come in to serve them. You could say that in a sense, what I’m doing (as a HOPE team member) falls in line with being a volunteer…but that’s not what I meant. We were blessed this morning with a church from Louisville who lovingly served us breakfast and we had a college BCM come to serve our lunch and with all the volunteers in the day shelter, I became curious as to whether or not our day shelter guests liked being talked to by people they don’t even know. Now I’m by no means against volunteers at Jeff St., WE LIKE VOLUNTEERS…A LOT!. But I’ve never been in the shoes of someone who is sitting at a table in the day shelter going about their daily routine and then have that moment when a person I don’t know comes to me and just starts talking to me out of the blue. But I wondered about that and it just so happens that Stanley has been in that position, he knows what that’s like. So I asked Stanley about his take on moments when a complete stranger comes to sit down and inquire about his life. He told me that he doesn’t mind, but Santa…I mean Stanley…being the people watcher that he is told me that some people don’t know how to take it. He told me that some folks are quick to put themselves in a bubble and not let anyone in. Which makes sense. But still he told me, just taking the time to be at Jeff St. and just be there is a great help. Just taking the time to ask someone how they are…even if it doesn’t go anywhere further from that is meaningful to our guests. Though they may not show it, Stanley told me that it does make a difference.

My conversation with Santa was great. I enjoy talking to Stanley, whether he’s sharing stories about the trains he’s hopped on for a means of travel or if he’s talking about how God has helped him out…I know that our conversations are mutually appreciated. Since about last month I’ve been inviting Stanley to Sojourn, when I asked him if he was willing to go check it out sometime soon…he said “sure,” and that is an answered prayer. I’m not expecting this great road to Damascus moment, then again I shouldn’t expect anything like that when we gather to worship in the presence of the Lord. After all we can only trust that God will be at work in His own way, a way in which we are incapable to fathom. If you think about it…pray for my friend Stanley and all who are part of out community here at Jefferson St. God is at work here and there’s no denying this.

OH LORD, guide us all.


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