john davies
notes from a small curate

updated regularly
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK


    Blue Coat School 10/07/2002
    Mario sells the Big Issue in a friendly Lancashire town. And heıs popular. People look for him and complain if he wasn't at his post last week.

    Mario has been in Britain nearly ten years and four years on the streets of Manchester taught him a lot about the problems of homelessness and the humiliation of begging on the streets. Some kind office workers looked after his blankets as he used their doorway to sleep in every night. 'But,' Mario says, 'most people passing by looked at me, if they looked at all, as a nobody. I suppose they thought I was making no effort to help myself. I know what it's like to be invisible.'

    Mario found that being on the street meant he got no respect from others and, consequently, he lost his self-respect. But the police were helpful and they put him in touch with the Big Issue, and he became a vendor.

    Now Mario travels each day to his 'pitch' outside Marks & Spencer to meet up with his regular clientele. His day is not simply exchanging a magazine for a pound coin; rather, it's about exchanging words of friendship with people he sees every week. Mario is a committed Christian and he says, 'Now I can spend more time with people and share my faith with them.'

    He says it's wonderful to watch people's faces light up as they spot him and then stop for a chat. Mario is now highly visible. Over recent years, he has been into schools and colleges to speak to young people on the subject of being invisible. He is no longer homeless but lives in a hostel. He has an address and a regular job, and the result is respect from other people and, even more importantly, self-respect. Such changes produce a freedom of lifestyle and spirit which would have seemed impossible a few years ago.

    Todayıs theme is ACHIEVEMENT. And Mario is an achiever. By societyıs usual standards Mario may not seem to have achieved very much; you canıt tell what heıs achieved by looking at sporting trophies in his cabinets or academic certificates on his walls. Rather, his achievements are more to do with his character, his personality, with the good impression he has made on many peopleıs lives, the positive difference he makes to their week. How he has grown in self-confidence and self-esteem.

    When we think about our achievements itıs right that we too think about what we have achieved in our character as well as those those other things about what we have achieved in our work or leisure pursuits. Because our character is what people will most remember and most value about us.

    As this term comes to an end I hope you will take time to look back over the past year and to celebrate your achievements - improvements youıve made academically, things youıve done well in sport, good creative work in music or arts, whatever. And also how your character may have changed, the good impressions you may have made on the lives of those around you, how your self-confidence and self-esteem may have grown. All of these things, together, are worth celebrating.

    (story adapted from Geoffrey Duncan: Seeing Christ in Others)