Love in Action

Report from Canada

Heartwarming Gifts for the Homeless on a Snowy Day

Compiled by the Montreal News Group (Originally in English)

On Sunday December 18, 2005 after group meditation, Montreal fellow practitioners prepared a hundred-fifty Christmas gift bags for distribution to the homeless in downtown Montreal. Each bag contained vegetarian sandwiches, fruit, chocolate bars, a drink, a wool hat and a pair of gloves.

December in Quebec is typically severe with frigid winds, unrelenting snow storms and long winter nights beginning at 4:00 PM and ending at 7:00 AM. Nonetheless, on the distribution day, despite a temperature 15蚓 below freezing (5 F), about twenty sisters and brothers eagerly set out to share the gift bags with the city’s street people to provide them with some degree of comfort for at least a day. After arriving in downtown Montreal, the initiates encountered many homeless along the sidewalks and in subway stations, gave them the gifts and wished them “Merry Christmas from Master Ching Hai.” Most were quite surprised and gladly received the presents, with some even inquiring about Master.

After completing their street distribution effort, the initiates went to La Maison du Pere (The Father’s House), a facility offering essential services to the homeless. On their arrival, they saw that about a hundred people were lined up in the street waiting for the shelter to open. So the initiates quickly distributed all their remaining gift bags. Among the recipients was a man who kindly offered a plastic flower to a sister who had given him a bag. A warm atmosphere quickly developed between the givers and receivers, with some even sharing stories about their lives. For instance, one man said he had worked for a company specializing in high-end products for the aerospace industry, and after twenty-seven years of service found himself out of work and on the streets with no possessions, not even a hat to protect his head from the frigid Montreal winters. As the man related his story, some other men waiting in line at the entrance to the shelter began chanting loudly, “Ching Hai! Ching Hai! Ching Hai!” Needless to say, at that moment the practitioners were all filled with wonderfully warm feelings.

Through their 2005 Christmas gift distribution project, the Montreal initiates learned to wholeheartedly trust and rely on Master and follow Her example of sharing unconditional love. In this regard, one sister-initiate spoke for everyone involved when she said, “Thank You, Master, for permitting me to see and feel God from inside the homeless people. It was a good lesson in love and humility and a beautiful day.”