Prologue: The following piece was written after meeting a homeless man, in the depths of insanity, one afternoon in Dublin, last year. He appeared to be a hopeless case. However, over the course of the last 2.5 years, I have learned (from listening intently) that there are no hopeless cases. I spend a lot of time (from day to day, week to week), walking through Dublin’s City Centre promoting my client cafes, but I am yet to see this man again.
Who knows what may have happened to him?
The term honesty is mentioned within the piece and it’s a word, a state, a condition which demands reflection. I remember, during an entrepreneurial course I completed a couple of years ago, a guest speaker asked the room of students (not sure what the context was)…..”Are you honest?”
Everybody in the room put their hand in the air.
Except for one student.
I Loved his honesty!
Dear Reader, ever notice how a number of seemingly unrelated events tend to occur in rapid succession, thus creating the perfect storm of coincidence? I bet you have! Something akin to this happened to the Promoter recently, thus providing the inspiration for this article.
After a long day promoting the Personal-a-Teas concept to eagerly listening café proprietors, the Promoter headed across one of Dublin’s iconic parks. Half way across he decided to give the ‘shoe-leather’ a break for a bit. Whilst sitting on one of Dublin’s iconic park-benches he was joined by a homeless man. Bearing in mind the Promoter is a local lad, he had no cause for concern at this development. After all, homeless men and women are generally harmless unfortunates, down on their luck, right?
But this man was different.
Whilst remaining as respectful as possible, this ‘unfortunate’ was intimidating. He spoke broken English (he was British!) such was the condition of his mind and his mouth. Brown saliva oozed from broken gapped teeth, down his grizzled chin and onto his hands which he seemed oblivious to. He welcomed himself to the Promoter’s personal space readily, with arms like battered, withered branches flailing in the gales of his anguish. His face and spittle was close – way too close. What was going to happen next….wondered the Promoter? If this unfortunate’s story was to be believed, he had been no ‘saintly figure’ in years passed. The scars he showed across his chest, apparently from five bullet wounds were testament to this. He cursed his life: “Did I deserve this?”….he asked the Promoter. Did he believe in karma?…wondered the promoter.
Under the circumstances, how do I answer this on?….thought The Promoter.
Having made his escape soon after, the Promoter was unsettled, slightly shaken and relieved to be free from that ‘iconic park bench’. Shortly after, he received the news that Amy Winehouse would have celebrated her 33rd birthday last week. Amy was one of the most iconic singers of our times. A deep, gravelly, wonderful voice who could express emotions deep within the recesses of the soul. Her talent undeniably transcended generations. However, the power of addiction brought an abrupt end to her career and her life. She died at the age of 27 in 2011 from alcohol poisoning.
Addiction and homelessness are intrinsically linked. Together, they form a vicious circle which serves to perpetuate and progress the other, leading to the destruction of the unfortunate host subject. They strip a person of financial, physical, emotional and spiritual health. Last Wednesday night (21.09.16), it was reported by Dublin Simon Community that 168 adults slept rough on the streets of Ireland’s capital.
But this article is not about despair, it’s about hope!
Last week, the Promoter also heard through the social media grapevine, that Mother Teresa had been canonised in the Vatican by Pope Francis. (Even the Pope conceded she will always be remembered as ‘Mother Teresa’). Did you know that Mother Teresa learned English as young a woman in Rathfarnham? She spent a year in Dublin before embarking on the journey which would take her upon her vocation to establish her Mission of Charity in Calcutta. It was a vocation which saw her immerse herself with the poorest of the poor. She was to care for the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society. The people who have are perceived as a burden to society and are shunned by everyone. But Calcutta is Calcutta, right? Thousands of miles away, a different society and class structure altogether.
Luckily, Ireland has it’s very own Mother Teresa. The Promoter found this whilst listening to the Sean O’Rourke show on RTE Radio last week. He was interviewing Sister Consilio from the Cuan Mhuire Addiction Services.
Sister Consilio began her vocation to help the people of Ireland with addition issues some 50 years ago. As a young lady, she saw beyond the external aesthetics of the local hopeless cases. She could see the goodness within each of them. They had lost everything, including the roof over their heads. It wasn’t long before she had organised a communal room where they could keep themselves out of the elements and have a cup of tea together. Over time, Sister Consilio observed something remarkable. The men and women, albeit slowly, began to get better in themselves. The buds of recovery were gestating.
They had started to help and support one another, to keep each other from temptation, as trite as it may seem to some, from going to the local pub. They, as a group, and as individuals, were willing to change their old ways. And under her guidance, they began to develop a program for recovery. It wasn’t long before the ‘Rooms’ of Sister Consilio began to expand as people from far and wide darkened their door-steps.
The program for recovery for the individual is based upon acceptance. Acceptance that without the help from others, addiction is too much to deal with. It is through the open, unconditional receipt of this help and spiritual guidance, combined with rigorous honesty and a willingness to change on behalf of the individual that a program for living free of addiction can be established. A day at a time.
Sister Consilio oversees 500 – 600 beds of recovery across the country. Over the 50 years that she has worked on her vocation, she has helped countless people retrieve a life worth living from a hell of an existence. There are no hard stats for the extent of this contribution, but it’s there nontheless. Witnessed in some form or other, in every town of Ireland. What is undeniable is that people like Mother Teresa and Sister Consilio have made a remarkable impact upon people’s lives. Not just the individuals themselves. Immediate and extended families, friends and colleagues alike all receive the gift of a loved one recovered.
Sister Consilio represents the Loose Leaf Tea persona perfectly. Her organising, her hard-work, her spirit of community forged at the Cuan Mhuire centres. Her steadfastness. Her resolution. Her devotion. Her love for the unfortunates. The people shunned by society.
For Amy Winehouse, recovery remained elusive. She never attained the rigorous honesty required to change. For the ‘man in the park’, the doors of Cuan Mhuire are open. There are no hopeless cases. Hopefully, he can find them.
Ref: Sister Consilio
A version of this piece was originally posted on Je Suis Personality