Provincial Court Judge Elizabeth Bayliff said something in Williams Lake a few weeks ago that has stuck in my heart ever since.
She was sentencing a local 30-something-aged man to serve a seven-day jail sentence.
The man struggles with alcohol.
Recently he’d been discovered by police passed out on the floorboards of a shack behind a pub.
The description of him lying there in the shack was heartbreaking, Bayliff told him.
“You are worth so much more than that,” she said, looking directly into his eyes.
Growing up our mom always said to us: “There but for the grace of God go I.”
It was her way of saying we shouldn’t judge anyone. That we should not think less of anyone, no matter what.
“You don’t know their story,” she insisted.
And mom probably grew up hearing the same message from her mom.
One time during summer vacation in Vancouver, I told my Granny I’d seen women prostitutes on Davies Street.
My tone caused her to beetle over in her wheelchair, gently grab my arm, and look at me intently.
“You are not better than those women,” she told me. “You don’t know why they are on the streets.”
I was 10 years old. I knew she was right and was grateful she’d pointed that out to me.
A decade later when I moved to Winnipeg from Nelson where I grew up, I remember laughing the first time the wind blew on me while I was standing on that famous corner of Portage and Main.
It blew on everyone, no matter who they or we were, I realized.
This morning I read that being grateful helps us face the day more readily.
It helps because it makes us realize we are not totally self-made and totally self-sufficient on this earth.
As I look forward to celebrating my 53rd day of the turkey with my children and spouse, I hope I will remember to be grateful.
It’s an art and a challenge and it does take years.
People will say they don’t like receiving, they only like to give.
But when we let people give, we help make them feel worth something.
That day in court Bayliff gave that man something I hope made a difference.