I just climbed back in bed with my coffee and started listening to the Good Friday service, when the doorbell rang.
For years, Jerry has come to my door at least once a week. It began with the greeting: “Morning, Oubie, isn’t there a drop of coffee and a crust of bread? Over time we got to know each other and I miss him when he does not come around. I wonder about his well being. Sometimes he is gone for a while. Sometimes he works somewhere, then he doesn’t come around to ask for coffee and a sandwich. His family stays in Plettenberg Bay. Sometimes he goes there but not for long, for he does not enjoy it there – perhaps too much of a routine. He has a wife in Oudtshoorn. One day I asked him why he does not go to her. If looks could kill: “The old woman is too difficult.”
The first lockdown Sunday He was here, too. He got lunch and showed me his access number for the shelter. He’s going there immediately.
This morning he stands at the door wearing a mask. He gets his coffee and rusks, because we don’t have bread in the house. “Can he please get sugar? Another “Madam” gave him tea and a flask, but the sugar is finished.” He still has enough tea, he says, but it will be nice if I can fill the flask. He shows me his elastic writs band – entrance to the shelter. Through Jerry I learn there are a lot of people with a heart. A building contractor who gives him a cell phone so that he doesn’t have to walk so far to “inquire about a job,” and another “Madam” that gives a pack of tea. The Lord knows, it’s just heart that will get us through this disaster.
I encourage him to go to the shelter and stay safe, but wonder if he isn’t much better off here where he stays on his own in our neighborhood.
As he walks away, it is Streets of London that fills my mind and tears my eyes. A very proud and worthy man with an incredible support network from Soeteweide Street to Welgemoed – walks away “his home in a carrier bag …”
Have you seen the old dear who walks the streets of London
Dirt in her hair and her clothes in rags
She’s no time for talking, she just keeps right on walking
Carrying her home, in two carrier bags
So how can you tell me you’re lonely
And say for you that the sun don’t shine
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I’ll show you…
I have so much to be grateful for.
And I know, I know, for the know-it-all’s and clever Alec’s who read this, I know. But I can’t help wondering: isn’t the virus our punishment? Our punishment that we have allowed the Gap between “Have’s and have-not’s” to become so incredibly wide?
And my prayer is: Lord, teach me to live differently. Thank you for a virus that is forcing us to a standstill. Thank you for a virus that teach us the hard way that if the paw-paw hits the fan, the packer at Checkers and a man on a motorbike are more important to us than being a boss! When the virus flies around, the cleaner is most important of all. Before the virus, we are of equal value – the rich and the poor. Amen.
If you want to learn more about street people, their problems and the challenges, read John Grisham’s Street Lawyer.
And I listen to our own Streets of London – we have them worldwide – Johannes Kerkorrel – Hillbrow