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Street Angels by Mary Campbell

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Street Angel

Mary Campbell

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As the homeless crisis appears to worsen and rent control issues rear their ugly heads in the media let us not forget the pressures our neighbours and friends are under. Mental health issues are still quite taboo in society at large and there are many among us suffering from depression and anxiety for any number of reasons but falling under the radar either by choice or lack of available services. Community spirit is a thing of the past in a lot of our built up areas with ever changing tenancy, commuter belts and cultural division, so lets not kid ourselves that we are still a nation of welcome and warmth as perceived internationally. The Céad Míle Fáilte of yester years is well and truly gone.
We are a nation of reality TV, fantasy and fiction craving entertainment and gratification to the exclusion of all else. Family values and, moral codes and ethics have been diluted and we have become captives of our phones and technology making us socially blind.
The recent closure of a local voluntary suicide prevention service due to lack of funding and support has touched a nerve with me and I have begun to question my own changing values and behavior. At a time when suicide is on the steady increase it is heartbreaking to see support services such as this fall by the wayside while vast sums of money are thrown at extravagant urban face lifts and new shopping complexes all around me. Where is the outcry from the public, the street protests and the media mutiny to set this sorry situation to rights?
Once in a while if we are lucky, we encounter what I like to call street angels. This phenomenon is rare and where possible we need to acknowledge them and throw the weight of our community spirit in behind them to get things done. I can think of two in my local area. These are ordinary human beings with no hidden agendas and nothing to gain from doing what they do other than trying to save their fellow man or woman. I call them street angels, because they are just ordinary people with faults and failings and sins like the rest of us, who do not wish to be put up on pedestals for all the world to see. When we put people up on pedestals, it is easier to put them under the microscope, to find their flaws, and pull them down. Street angels, don’t pretend to be angels or saints or make false promises that they cannot keep. They are not paragons of virtue or prophets. They merely get up every day and think of someone else less fortunate than themselves before they think of their own families, their own needs and their own struggles. They walk the streets bringing food and shelter to the homeless, the needy or talk people down off ledges when no one else will listen to them. They fund raise tirelessly and canvas support for their fellow man when the rest of us are watching TV or tucked up in warm cosy beds. They do not rest. Would that I could say the same of myself some day. Alas I am too caught up in my own daily struggles and for this I am deeply ashamed. I do however have a voice and I will champion these people at every opportunity in the hopes that others will follow in their footsteps. In a time when religion is falling out of favor and the church is in decline, I for one am glad to say I still believe in angels. Street angels that is.
(This poem is dedicated to street angels everywhere)

Time Stands Still

Surprised by kindness
At my lowest point
For a moment
Time stands still
And then I breathe
The staccato marching
Of the clock
Penetrates my brain
Slows the chaotic frenzy
Of my thoughts
And in my chest
Unsure what to say
I just nod
And smile
Or do my best
A wealth of emotions
Spilling forth
Clouding my eyes
Trapping my words
Before they have time
To form
Then it’s too late
She is gone
But her gift to me
Has not
A stranger’s voice
Has lifted me up
And given me hope
In the darkest depths
Of despair
Just something small
Was all it took
To change my day
A friendly look
A kindly word
And I am saved.

-Mary Campbell

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