Staggering,stumbling and swaying, I saw the figure in the distance, drunk…. perhaps, as I get closer I see a familiar figure,pastel blue high waisted track pants, pink turtle necked skivvy that is tucked into her pants, runners and a cap to top it off, not your ordinary baseball cap but something redolent of the 70’s similar to the photo. Slowly moving down the street. A cursory glance tells you something is wrong, perhaps she is intellectually disabled, spastic we used to call people like her. I know now it was cerebal palsy but not Janet,
I don’t know her name for sure, but everyone should have one, it reminds us of her humanity.
I know Janet, well not really but I recognise her and have met her before. Janet wanders the streets of the town I live, I see her everywhere, clutched in her hand is some pieces of paper. As you get closer you can see her face is twisted,no real expression on it, just a determined set to her. As I get closer I see her walk up a driveway, I know what she is going to do next. Janet you see is on a mission, a mission from God. I wonder what Janet used to be like before.
Janet has had a stroke I believe or some kind of cerebral injury, she is possibly someones wife, mother, definitely someones daughter. I wonder what she used to do before she hit the streets. Did she dance, laugh, run, perhaps she played an instrument, cycled, cooked, she could have been a Dentist, Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher, any manner of employment. She may have been as sharp as a tack but Janet now is on a mission, a mission from God.
I have a vague memory of her turning up on my doorstep, I don’t remember watching her climb my steps but I had to help her down. She stood at my door dressed like some refugee from the 60’s, she may have been wearing a wedding ring, I don’t recall exactly, I opened the door and there she was, hello I said and she tried to form some words, grotesque is not the right word, perhaps broken, tortured even, but with a sigh she held out a piece of paper. I don’t remember what it said exactly however the gist of it was that she wanted to tell me that God loved me.
It was a cold day and there is not much of her at all, almost gaunt I would say, I didn’t quite know what to do. If I recall correctly she wanted to give me a hug from God. To say I was a little out of my comfort zone is not an exaggeration, however within me I recognised something in her. Perhaps it was pity from my side but if so then I could stand accused of being a patronising prat, making assumptions and dismissing her out of hand. I saw Janet as half person, I wonder how Janet sees herself? Does she think she is half a person? I remember her hug, thin arms, awkward movements and just a real sense of disability but for a second I thought I saw a flicker of a smile flash across her face.
What was she thinking on the inside, what would she articulate ? Would she be dancing, I helped Janet down the steps, and she lurched back out the gate and with a determined look she headed off to the next way-point on her mission.
I have been door knocked before by people on a mission, in the past, some were zealous, others apologetic, the last one had a young man in tow, a student I knew from school, clearly unhappy to be there, embarrassed, perhaps. None were like Janet. they were all articulate, some aggressive, belligerent, brimming with evangelical zeal. I used to engage with them but these days well I am not that arrogant to believe that I have the truth, but rather than engage and count the score as if in some gladiatorial battle, I rather choose to politely say no, and go back to whichever it was I was doing, if I had spare time I would much rather write, but not Janet, I think perhaps she just sees another door to knock on and perhaps another soul to save.
Janet came, told me that God loved me, simple, uncomplicated, no ego, confrontation or judgement, Janet asked for a hug and left. Left me with my thoughts, questions, and insecurities. I don’t wish I were Janet although life seems simple for her and I would like such a simple life if it existed. For now, Janet leaves me with questions, another bloody God botherer, well perhaps to some, but if Janet knocks on my door she is welcome.
Love to all,