‘Shopping cart philosopher’ reveals treasure of humanity

The article in the Jan. 18 Saanich News captures the essence of the enigmatic Peter Verin

The article in the Jan. 18 Saanich News captures the essence of the enigmatic Peter Verin. This Saanich resident loved and respected his community without presumption or judgment.

He chose to ‘live off the grid.’ He was so much more than a weary homeless man pushing around his cart of earthly possessions. Never was the saying: “Do not judge a book by its cover” more appropriate than in Peter’s case.

Meeting and conversing with him was a memorable experience. In his own special way his influence was indelible. Each word mattered. Each moment was meant to be savoured. He thought at a universal level. In retrospect, though he was homeless the whole world and its people were his home, so he was indeed a truly rich man.

Peter’s love of Saanich was palpable. He loved the people, the natural beauty and all of its creatures great and small. Reading was his lifelong passion. He spent many precious hours reading in the McPherson Library at the University of Victoria. Students recall his impromptu discussions and lectures, anytime, anywhere (often on lush green grass under the shade of a tree). Many of them claim that they learned more from these stimulating spontaneous sessions than from formal classes taught by their professors.

Over the years he came to be regarded as the “philosopher king of Saanich.” Peter had an insatiable love for learning. His knowledge he shared most generously. Highly intelligent, fluent in several languages, he loved and appreciated life. Even the difficult and trying moments had meaning and lessons for him. (Perhaps the most heartbreaking days were when the University of Victoria declared him a person non-grata.) Many times Peter expressed his gratitude to and respect for the Saanich Police and their work.

It was heartwarming to see the hundreds of Saanich residents who came on a drizzly midweek day to pay tribute to Peter. His love for Saanich was indeed reciprocated.

So the next time you see a homeless person, remember that each one has a unique life story. Each one is a person and is part of this beautiful, colourful tapestry called humanity.

Sylvia Walsh

 

Saanich