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Meeting Don Bosco in downtown Toronto

Kris Dmytrenko

Friday, February 2, 2007

Pardon the tardiness of the post, but my thoughts are still fixated on January 31st. The 31st marked the Feast of St. John Bosco, as well as my encounter with a man who bore extraordinary spiritual resemblance to the saint.
I was riding the westbound Dundas streetcar late Wednesday night when, as we passed Spadina, quite the commotion erupted in the front of the vehicle.
“Why won’t you let me off the stop right at my building? The other drivers let me off wherever I wanted.”
The driver warmly explained to the elderly woman that he could not stop at arbitrary locations because of safety regulations. If he disobeyed the rules, he would be heavily fined and a passenger could be exposed to traffic. But the woman persisted, hurling numerous vile slurs at the driver. It’s worth mentioning that the woman, while old, appeared well capable of walking the distance to her building.
Yet, as the driver reiterated his reasons, his tone never changed. No matter how long the woman berated him—and, even as an observer, it felt like an uncomfortable eternity—his patience would not be tested. Perhaps the driver knew it was unfair to judge the woman, who may have been acting out of a mental illness. Still, to so perfectly live out this understanding, without showing a trace of indignity, required the holiness of a saint—Saint John Bosco. Don Bosco perceived that it was easier to threaten than to persuade, to be angry than to restrain oneself. Nevertheless, it is “more fitting to be persistent in punishing our own impatience and pride than to correct.”

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