Vicar's Musings for Ordinary Sunday 31
5 November, 2017
A couple of weeks ago I opened the Vicarage front door, to find a young woman sitting in the porch writing a letter. Earlier in the year "Sarah" (for privacy reasons, not her real name) had spent several nights sleeping rough under the St Peter's Palm Tree, and then with the help of the St Peter's Charitable Foundation, she was given a few nights' accommodation to help her out. Sarah told me proudly that she had completed a rehabilitation program in rural Victoria, and was now more than a month free from drugs. She had come back to St Peter's to say thank-you. Sarah then sat on the church grounds, in the sun, for more than an hour finishing this beautiful letter. It is with Sarah's permission that I share her words with members of the St Peter's parish community. It is written for all of us.
I stopped by today with news — Good News! After spending over two years on the streets of Melbourne ... I am no longer sleeping outside in the CBD, and I am clean! I remember the first time someone brought me to St Peter's — as I so desperately needed a peaceful sleep — and to these grounds of St Peter's I was taken, and had an incredibly peaceful rest, underneath the Palm Tree (that even keeps you dry whilst it rains). It was possibly the only place in my time on the streets that I had a decent rest. I felt a kind of safeness. Instantly I felt safe, calmer, SERENITY, VITALITY and GOOD ENERGY. It helped me more than I'd realised, even then. As I look back I realise. It was a haven amongst the urban, concrete jungle: CLEANLINESS, PURITY, BEAUTY, ACCEPTANCE.
The church noticed that time — I was almost suffocating in sadness and sorrow — two inevitabilities out here, in that life. Although I left home by choice, at about 14 years old, before I was on the street I had always been a hard worker, a tax payer, a good citizen. In 2013 I lost my angel, my grandmother, who was the most amazing person I'd ever known... it felt like I LOST HER FOREVER. And in my ignorant understanding I LOST MYSELF. Without the handful of people, individuals, some organisations, and this beautiful church, I don't know what would have happened. Every single day this beautiful place, these beautiful people, offer a safe haven, bread and breakfast (EVERY DAY!) 365 days. This place gives, offers to anybody, without ever any judgement ... it is the only place I know of in my years on the streets that there is every day, every night, welcome arms. Everyone is allowed to have a chance, to become involved, and with no expectations — this place, these people give whatever the church can.
If the whole world were more like this ... I could just imagine ... THANK YOU. St Peter's Church made me welcome; joy and smiles, food and nourishment, a beautiful palm tree that kept me dry, the grounds that made me feel safe and much more positive than any other place ... you were always HERE and TODAY you are still HERE. I haven't seen that from anyone or anything else in my couple of years on the streets of Melbourne.
THANK YOU. THANK YOU SO MUCH. THANK YOU FOR FEEDING our fellow people everyday and THANK YOU for letting them stay; they sleep well on these grounds. THANK YOU for that week of ‘heaven' you offered and gave to me ... it gave me the fuel I needed for my fourth quarter; to survive; to REVIVE. It possibly saved me. It allowed me the energy to get that second wind, to do what I had to do to break free from that curse. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.
A month ago I came back here. I finally broke free (in my mind) ... I wanted to tell you ... I was going to the country, on a farm, away from the city. I was going to recover there, HEAL — emotionally, physically, spiritually. And I left Melbourne three days later, and only now have returned. And I am sitting here, because I felt A DEEP URGE to tell you this. This place is special, heavenly, life-saving.
THANK YOU to everyone who lives here, stays here, worships here, works here; everyone who volunteers, who donates — you helped me — I'll be FOREVER grateful.
The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster
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