This morning we headed to MHCC, a shopping complex in the heart of Suva. Out the front was an elderly indo-fijian man, loudly berating an invisible and vast audience with a barrage of Hindi. He is a regular. In agitation he paced, to and fro, waving his arms wildly and waggling his finger at the disobedient and invisible recipients of his tirade. The first time I saw him, months ago, he was commandeering the pedestrian crossing, hurling abuse into the air. Very intimidating! But this morning, we stood off to the side and, like everyone else waiting for the store to open, simply observed him with curiosity...and pity.
We tried to guess. Perhaps, in earlier days, he was an old school headmaster. A politician. A preacher, perhap?. The indo-fijian taxi drivers watched him with respectful amusement as the old man stormed out onto the crossing in front of a bus, and began to try to push the bus backwards, away from the crossing.
When I asked a taxi driver for a translation, he chuckled. "He's saying, Don't park here! It's a $200 fine!"
As I looked at the man, I remembered a story a friend told me.
It was a winter morning at Gloria Jeans in Suva. My friend had enjoyed a hot chocolate, and was preparing to go, when the door opened. In slipped a tired old man, obviously a street-person.
He quietly took a seat up the back, and pulled out a battered newspaper from his bundle of belongings. My friend watched as he tried to soak up the warmth, and blend into the surroundings. Incoming customers hesitated, then chose seating away from him. The staff began giving him cautious looks. She wondered how long they'd let him stay.
The woman rose to go, and impulsively walked to the cashier and ordered another hot chocolate, with instructions for it to be given to the man, then slipped out the door. A few minutes later, she walked by, and saw him sitting up straight, delightedly stirring sugar into his hot chocolate. Legally, he now had a right to be in Gloria Jeans. No one would throw him out.
Matthew 25:40 Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me--you did it to me.' The Message.
Lord, let us recognise the unpolished diamonds of humanity, the way You see them. Precious.