Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Below is a touching poem dedicated to the volunteers who serve our numerous homeless friends every Sunday.

While on this subject we need warm clothing for our homeless visitors, as it is getting very cold outside. Please consider donating clean used winter coats, gloves, etc.,or monetary donations for us to be able to purchase these items. Thank you and God bless!

In XC,
Fr Victor

Have You Seen Christ at St. George’s House?

“We should fear the day when the Lord stops sending us the needy.”
Kosara Gavrilovich, former parishioner of St. John’s

Some say -
Show me your Christ,
And I shall believe!

Indeed, He was at St. John’s last Sunday,
And so you know,
He lives on Rhode Island Avenue
In Washington, D.C.,

And every Sunday He walks,
Or sometimes He takes a bus or bikes
To get here, at the entrance of the St. George House,
Waiting patiently for a fresh cup of warm cocoa
That Theodora, a very focused 10-year old,
Brings out for Him today, making sure
That not a drop spills from
This white foam chalice of love.

He takes this cup of beige warmth
Spruced up with jolly marshmallows
Bobbing in cocoa like fishing floats,
He sips carefully from it,
Approves with a slight move of His lips,
Takes one more sip, His face illumined,
As He secretly blesses the kind girl,
Who suddenly turns and says with a serious face,

“Warm food is on its way!”

Some say -
Why should we care
About these noisy beggars?
There are plenty of programs,
Government or otherwise, some non-profits
Will take care of them,
What difference can I make?
But listen to what Shawn has to say.
He’s in his late twenties, tall and thin,
Humbly approaching with his shy grin,
As he whispers in a raspy voice
On this crisp and cold Sunday,

“My hands are freezing,” he says,
“Can you spare some gloves for me?
Any size, you know, any size would do,
I am so very cold.”

His eyes are as deep
As Jacob’s Well,
And the lucid truth
Springs out from them
In the shape of human tears,
These are the dew of grace,
As he stands with two trembling hands
Fingers quivering
Like the broken wings of a struggling bird,
Reaching toward me --
His mouth is silent,
But I feel that he is begging to be heard,
As his soul begins to speak:

“Would you please warm me up?
I came here for your touch of mercy
To call on your dormant soul,
I am pleading with you,
To help you thaw this icy heart of yours,
And soar with you toward these golden cupolas
Of your beautiful church,
So that we both can see the Lord...

And I promise, my tears will reach
The Almighty God,
O, I know, my brother, Jesus will hear me,
I know He will, He always hears a poor man like me,
O He promised, brother, He did!”

And then he says,
“I tell you one more thing,
Just one more thing, brother,
My Momma used to make the best pancakes,
And every Sunday, she would fill a full load
Of hot, hot pancakes on my plate,
And she used to say to me, 
‘I love you, Shawny,
I love you,’ she said.”

Some say -
There is no way
We can feed every homeless man,
And all we can do is just wait and pray.

But the truth is – the world lacks love,
Its dearth is so vast
That it explodes with blood,
The blood of new wars,
Spreading death everywhere,
Like the serpent, it strangles our life --
Do you know why?
Because each of us lacks love,
We are in debt to God,
As we all fail the test of giving,
Unable to leave our cocoons of pride…

So these homeless messengers of Christ
Shaken by this stiff indifference,
Are bulging out with the high tide of pain,
In the ocean of human suffering
Unbeknownst to us in our safe selfish shells,
These are the souls who are screaming inside,
Torn apart, scorned, forgotten,
They stand there, cold and unloved,
Waiting for a drop of kindness,

Look at Mary from Puerto Rico,
And her son, Miguel,
Her big sad eyes teared up
Like aching brown crystals,
Her pain like an iceberg
Lies heavy beneath her heart,

“Here’s my son,” she says,
“And I need help with health insurance,
O my son is so special,
He is very special to me,
Miguel, come, say hi to these nice people,
Look at him, sir, just look at him,
Isn’t he sweet?
He is special, you know, he can’t really read,
But he wants to, and I need your help.”

She smiles as she pulls him closer,
“His heart is so soft. And he likes the sweets,
Do you have any dessert today?”
Of course, we do!

“O thank you for this delicious pumpkin pie!
Miguel, my boy, say thank you to them,
O, I am so sorry, he doesn’t understand,
Thank you, thank you for this!”

And then she abruptly asks,
“Where is Miss,
Miss Maria?
Will she come here today?”

O this mysterious name,
Everyone in this crowd
Says Maria with a special tone,
Tenderness and love
Veil this dear name.

A man in his forties
With a ponytail,
Jose from El Salvador,
Leans closer and says,

“Where is Maria?
Is she coming today?”
He asks me with a sheepish smile,
Bashful and apologetic,
As if he owed me something,
This is one of those smiles
From a man who knows
That human beings can sting
Like a wasp they can sting,
And he wants to make sure
That I am okay with him asking.

“Of course, Jose,
She will come any moment now,
Please wait over here.”

As he walks away,
Here comes Luis,
A young fellow from Guatemala,
His sandy hoodie is two sizes too small,
But he is very enthusiastic and hopeful,
As he asks me,

“Will Maria give me a cross?”

“A cross?” I ask.
“Oh, she gave away some beautiful crosses
A few days ago,
Some have them, and I want one too.”

Some say -
The saints are a myth, a legend,
Assuming that the human race
Isn’t capable of bearing
These angels in human flesh anymore.

But look what happens to the crowd
Around the St. George House
At about ten forty five Eastern time!
Maria is here, I hear
The tidal wave,

As hope enlightens each person’s eyes,
And the chain of homeless souls
Neatly lines up,
And subtle joy
Lifts up these rugged men and women,
As they see her

Beginning to give away
White plastic bags
Filled with a fresh dose of kindness,
And a tangerine, peanut butter cookies,
Some mini bagels with cheese and sausage,
A bottle of water, and a chocolate bar.

In about ten minutes,
As each picks up their bag,
Jose and Luis stand beaming,
As Matushka Maria
Motherly places
Small shining crosses
On their necks.

God bless you, Maria!
They said.
Andrey Gidaspov
16 November 2022

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Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St.John the Baptist in Washington DC · 4001 17th St., NW · Washington, DC 20011 · USA