Ron was a shallow, materialistic and fairly superficial man, but after a crisis in his marriage, his wife convinces him to accompany her to the homeless shelter to volunteer and his life begins to change. His initial reaction of fear and misunderstanding is one many of us sympathized with. We also have had so little exposure to true poverty and have difficulty understanding the lives of the "downtrodden".
Denver's life was an eyeopener for many of us - it's so hard to imagine that kind of poverty and isolation in today's fast-paced, high-tech world. Some of us found it difficult to understand Denver's rage and violence - especially considering the Denver that we come to know at the end of the book.
Deborah Hall - is she really the gem that Ron and Denver describe or do they turn her into a saint as they look back and remember her? Most of us felt that she was a genuine, caring, godly woman and that Ron and Denver represent her faithfully. One of our readers was more skeptical and felt that they only told part of the truth about Deborah, who never really comes across as a "real" person in the book.
The largest part of our discussion centered around the idea of "catch-and-release" friendships and Denver concept of committing to your friends. We talked about our friends - past and present - and whether or not we had ever made that kind of commitment to a friend. We seem to enter into and leave friendships much more casually like Ron - although some of us felt that kind of commitment to various friends without ever having really discussed it.
We also talked a bit about the spiritual element of the book - the visions and signs from God - Denver seeing "Miss Debbie" after her death - and Ron and Denver's spiritual struggles. Although quite a few of us were skeptical about some of the incidents in the book, we acknowledged that God works powerfully and in mysterious ways.
Were we inspired? One of the biggest excuses for not reaching out to others who are the "same kind of different as" us is the lack of time. We talked a bit about the pressures that we feel in this busy stage of our lives and how its so hard to imagine finding time/energy to volunteer - especially outside our comfort zone. Our lives will always be busy in one way or another so it's important to do what we can whenever we can so that no opportunity to serve is missed out on.
Thanks to those who contributed toiletry items
for StreetLight Ministries in Hamilton.
If you would still like to contribute, feel free to pass your donation along to Tessa in the next week or so.