I returned to Winnipeg sometime around 1976.
Found bits and pieces of work. Enough income to afford space in a rooming
house. A bed, a dresser and maybe a small table. Bath down the hall on the
second floor. Very hot and humid in the summer. Motive to get out. Delighted
in walking the streets of the inner city. So many encounters with strangers.
Walking drunks home and tucking them in. Giving positive attention to a
suicidal young person sitting by the river. Walking away for a chat over
coffee and a cookie. Sitting in Laundromats watching my meagre wardrobe go
round in the dryer. Chatting with others gathered to get their cloths clean.
Older ladies often commented on how crisply I folded my shirts. Guess some
of mother got pretty well established in me.
For nearly one year I stayed at George's
Rooming House at 400 Kennedy street. An immersion experience exposing me to
many surprising persons and stories. A sad soul who walked away from the way
of the world following a business failure. Another who never recovered from
the pain of a failed romance. Every person with a history. Also a time for
me to wonder about my future. Was this to be my abiding place in the world?
The future looked bleak. Even so I put on my best face. Walking the streets
looking for opportunity to make a difference. Simply by being kindly
attentive to others. Noticing and affirming folk generally shunned and
shamed by the population at large. Being to them what I would like others be
At the approach of my thirtieth year I entered
a time of crisis. The way of the world had me demoralized. It seemed my life
of resistance was being wasted. Futile. Causing me to reach a point of
radical decision. Late one evening I called mother. Told her I was leaving.
She asked where. I had no idea and told her so. Being mother she heard the
spirit speaking through the language. She was concerned. My despair hinted
at suicide. I had no assurances to offer her. Following the conversation I
went to an evangelical church service. Here my guilt and shame were
amplified. There seemed nowhere to turn.
Late that evening I took all of my money and
bought a bus ticket. The fare got me to Revelstoke, BC. When the bus arrived
I pretended to be asleep. Hoping the driver would not notice and I could
ride further. He did notice. Found me out and asked me to leave the bus. So
there I was. Standing alone with nowhere to go and no money to get there.
Started walking West. Through the night and the next day. Deeply hungry and
The second night a car stopped and took me in.
The driver pulled into a Cafe. Invited me to come in for a bite. I asked if
I might stay in the car and sleep. He was fine with that. Within moments I
entered a state of delirium. A transcending of circumstance and the
opportunity for insight. Heard words being pronounced. Not as sound. Words
as light. Pronouncing a simple phrase, you cannot know my will. Then the
silence of deep sleep. Was wakened by the driver's return. The imagined
moment deeply planted in my consciousness.
my way to Abbotsford and the home of my uncle and aunt. Weary and hungry I
knocked on the door. I was welcomed in by my uncle. Auntie came forward and
told me to take off my dirty socks. She had smelled them coming down the
road. Then all my clothes into the laundry and me into the bath. Clean, warm
and relieved I feasted on supper's leftovers. Auntie muttered that I had not
bothered to give the Lord thanks. Uncle assured her that I was deeply
grateful. Then into a clean cosy bed.
Uncle found work for me. After some months I
had achieved a small amount of saving. Uncle thought this a good opportunity
for heading home and making a fresh start. My bags were packed and I started
the journey home. There was no clear indication, other than a sense of hope,
that the future would bring good things. There was a clear sense in which my
decisions and determinations had something to do with things to come.