There is a high rotation of people through the city area. Even people I peg as regulars move on to other places. I don't get to say goodbye but I do get to say hello to many new people that arrive or just become more noticeable as my eyes are opened further. And people constantly surprise me by breaking the stereo types I initially place them in..
I was sitting in the usual spot and an indigenous guy(Sam) and girl(Angela) came and sat next to me. They were well known by the others but it was the first time I had seen them. Sam had a guitar and a friendly smile, and I talked to him about the busking he did (despite one broken string). Then he started asking me about God. He told me when he was a young child he was with some foster parents that had taken him to Church and through Sunday School he had become a believer. He really loved God and wanted to know more about him, but this had been nearly impossible as through his teenage years he lived with people in a non Christian part of the indigenous community. He still tried to be Christian when he could but he also participated in the violence and crime that sourounded him and felt somewhat guilty for it. In effect he was caught between two different worlds.
I told him that's what most Christians have to deal with, struggling to live a Christian life in the midst of many different 'ways'. It was just that the contrast between his beliefs and his people's culture was probably more confronting than what many other people experience, especially as he didn't have anyone to support him and talk with (that I knew of). I told him that as he cared about his faith, tried to make a difference where he felt able and was remorseful when things went wrong, then he was a great Christian and God would love who he was. We talked for a couple more hours over a range of Christian topics and even Robbie entered the conversation when we talked about Creation. We then spent some time in prayer together, sitting there, and afterwards he sang a couple of songs he had written about God. He was actually very talented and one of the others asked him who's song it was, expecting him to mention some well known name. As he left he gave me a hug and I told him to come and chat anytime and then he went off to do some more busking. We've caught up a few more times since. He's one of those people that just makes you smile when you think about them :)
Around midday I was just taking a break, sitting quietly on the silver seats down the middle of Bourke St Mall, and thinking about the issue of continuing on into the Winter. Another young guy came and sat next to me, opened his lunchbox for a sandwich and said hello. We chatted lightly and I spied a Bible among his things. I decided not to ask him anything Christian and just enjoyed feeling free to chat about regular stuff, knowing we were both bonded by our faith but not having it dictate a need to discuss it. In this way rather than warriors meeting on the battle field discussing tactics, stories and how to conquer the land; we were just a couple of fellow citizens chatting in our world.. at some point 'your kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven...' should change to 'your kingdom is on Earth as it is in Heaven...'
He mentioned that he worked in a clothing shop nearby, and I asked him where I might go to look at some thermal underwear, as I wanted to be warmer at night as the colder winter weather was approaching. He told me there was a string of camping and outdoor clothing shops down Little Bourke St, just past Elizabeth St. I thanked him for his advice and he headed off back to work.
Late that afternoon I was back sitting on the Steps. A guy(Luke) sitting nearby said hello and started chatting. His teeth were broken and I noticed they didn't reach the top of his gums.. so they were false teeth and even they weren't in very good condition. He said he was homeless and had just arrived in Melbourne half an hour ago. He normally lived in Bendigo but since his pet dog (and only friend) had died he came down here because of his grief and desire to get away from the location of his pain. It had been a few years since he had been to Melbourne and I updated him on where the charitys and food vans could be located. We chatted for a while about his dog and he became a bit distressed that he didn't bring a photo with him to remember her by and to show people. He talked with such emotion about her that at first I thought I might have been confused and perhaps he meant a person, but no, his attachment was to his pet. I guess when you don't have any other relationship a pet can be just as important as anyone else. After a while he got up to go for a walk, he said he was ok to find somewhere to sleep for the night and thanked me for talking with him. He said he now felt a bit better about coming to Melbourne.