ABOUT THE BOOK
WISDOM FROM THE HOMELESS
WISDOM OF THE HOMELESS
“Wisdom From the Homeless is a powerful book. In one chapter, the author recounts the tale of a patient who could not speak and tells us, “I can still hear him.” Long after first reading this book, I too can still hear the stories told and the lessons learned since they are, as the title suggests, fundamentally about wisdom. Acquiring wisdom involves the challenge of integrating knowledge, experience and deep understanding. Serving as a conduit for the patrons’ wisdom, Dr. Craton shares the stories of his patients at a homeless mission. While the patrons of the clinic first present as tragic and hopeless, Dr. Craton relates their stories as lessons of resilience, strength, courage, and even joy. Through the author’s determined self-reflection, we receive lessons of kindness, tolerance, acceptance and empathy. This universally-accessible book is highly recommended for a broad range of readers – new doctors in training, individuals examining their faith or those who may simply benefit from being reminded of the strength of the human spirit, the importance of treating every person we encounter with compassion and respect, and the sanctity and value of all lives.”
—JANE LOTHIAN, Instructor, University of Winnipeg
The British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge once said that everything that he had learned of any value had come by way of suffering. Over the past three years that we have been photographing and interviewing people experiencing homelessness, we have gotten to know, however briefly, over 400 of these individuals. All of them were enrolled in the school of suffering where they learned virtues, often in short supply today, such as gratitude, unpretentiousness, and humility. In a dog-eat-dog society where the traits of power and selfishness are often glorified above else, we agree with Dr. Craton that we can learn much from people experiencing homelessness. Read Wisdom from the Homeless and you will understand why Jesus called such individuals "blessed".
--Leah and Tim DenbokSaturday, 8 December 2018
Wisdom from the Homeless - Lessons a Doctor Learned at a Homeless Shelter
About the Book:
Sometimes the world seems like a very dark place. In this angry world, I have seen a glimpse of light. I have seen kindness, love and hope at a homeless shelter. Siloam Mission is named after a pool where, in Biblical times, Jesus healed a blind man. In this tradition, the Mission has a medical clinic, and I have had the privilege of working there. The homeless men and women I have met at Siloam have taught me profound lessons about perseverance through suffering, expressing joy in dire circumstances, and the rewards of service to those in need. I want to share those lessons with you....
My Thoughts: Every once in a while a book comes along, that will stay with you, long after the last page has been read. Wisdom from the Homeless, is that kind of book for me. No doubt, the poignant stories and striking photos gracing these pages will linger for a long time, perhaps even hauntingly. As well they should. We have so much that we can share with the less fortunate! Another aspect that will linger is the passion and kindness of the people serving the patrons of Siloam Mission, especially those in the medical field. It can't be easy seeing so much pain, disease, addictions... knowing those patients are homeless. I can't imagine nursing my little aches and discomforts, without a clean bed in a warm home to rest in. By contrast, there are people dealing with serious health issues and are living on the street. After treating a man with a dangerous bacteria on a badly broken and infected wrist, which 'had been unattended for days', Dr. Craton emphasized it beautifully: "This man needed mercy not judgment. I tried to imagine that I held the hand of Jesus, and for me that transformed the moment into something transcendent. I was no longer fighting through the smell of glue and infection or trying to figure out how this man got here; I was meeting God." I had to put the book down for a few minutes - it's difficult to read through tears. I've volunteered at Siloam Mission and know that it's a life-changing experience. That's one of the reasons this book caught my attention. The other is, when the temperature dips to -25C and I'm snug and warm in my bed, I wonder how many are curled up in a cardboard box on the street. That alone has compelled me to reach out. I realize, what I do as a volunteer is minuscule in comparison to Dr. Craton's contribution. However, if we all do something, significant changes will ensue. "Little drops of water, little grains of sand, make the mighty ocean and the pleasant sand. - Julia A. F. Carney. Woven into each story are Dr. Craton's candid accounts of self-reflections and lessons learned from the homeless. They're thought-provoking and beautiful and help make this such a powerful and heart-warming read: "I try to view the act of washing a homeless person’s feet in the context of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. For me, this changes the experience from something clinical, to something sacred."
"Pop (and my daughter) taught me a lesson I need to learn over and over again: that pride and fear can live side by side in my spirit, and both corrupt my expression of who I really am. Pride causes me to love myself more than others, and fear makes my neighbors enemies. Wisdom from the homeless."
If you've ever seen a homeless person, regardless if you've felt sympathy or less than empathetic, and have wondered what brought him/her to this point, you should read this book. It will cause you to pause, self-reflect, give you insights which you may not have otherwise and inspire you to help in some way.
My sincere thanks to Dr. Neil Craton for penning this powerful portrayal of homelessness and for sending me a complimentary e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
--Linda Maendel, hutt-write voice
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
NEIL CRATON, M.D.
Neil Craton was born and raised in Winnipeg, where he has practiced medicine for 35 years. He has been involved in many aspects of the Winnipeg sport medicine community, including as physician for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Canadian National Women’s Volleyball team. Neil serves as a medical educator and is the author of numerous academic works.
CONTACT & UPDATES
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Leah Denbok has been taking photographs since she bought herself a used Canon EOS Rebel T2i from a local hockshop in the summer of 2012. Inspired by the work of British photographer Lee Jeffries, she has been concentrating on high-contrast portraiture. One of her photographs was awarded first place in the Blue Mountain Foundation of the Arts Juried Art Show. She has been featured in most major Canadian media outlets including CBC, Toronto Star and Breakfast Television Toronto, and international media like Chatelaine magazine. She also has been featured by WE Day. Through her photography, as seen in her book Nowhere to Call Home: Photographs & Stories of the Homeless, Leah wishes to help humanize the homeless and draw attention to their plight.