Hot cross buns and Easter eggs were in abundance all around town. We didn’t have any in our house. Not because I’m mean, but because they don’t really have anything to do with my interpretation of the death and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. I may be wrong. I often am.
Good Friday (as recorded in the Bible) seemed to be a record of suffering. But also about hope. That’s what I seem to recall.
My recent Friday before Easter reminded me of sad times and how people suffer. It was a freezing cold day – the temperature here in the Shires was just nudging above zero for the first time since dawn, and I was sat in my warm car just after noon with the fan heater on high.
I was waiting for someone to return from the shop around the corner and they were taking ages. I called them on the phone but it went straight to voice mail. Ten or more minutes passed and I was getting agitated with the delay. Then it all changed. Thoughts of my discomfort were gone.
A car that had been parked opposite me moved off. The occupants had just left the supermarket and loaded up their car with bags of goodies – I’d guess chocolate eggs and hot cross buns could have been amongst their purchases. As they drove off I saw a man sat on the ground in a crossed-legged pose. His head was bowed and he was almost motionless. I watched. He sat. More minutes passed.
People on his side of the road passed him by. He didn’t move to look at them. They in turn didn’t look at him. He seemed invisible to them. My heart broke as I saw more flurries of snow start to fall. I tried the phone again. Still no reply and no sight of the person either.
Like a stalemate chess game I sat and looked at the man on the ground. He sat and kept his head towards the ground. Suddenly the car door opened and a blast of cold air entered the car with the two bags of steaming freshly cooked chips.
I sadly pointed to the man on the ground.
“I was calling you,” I said, “I wanted you to get another bag of chips for him.”
I took a bag and started to eat the delicious hot food.
It was quiet. I felt a stare.
And a question. “You were going to get one? What? Aren’t you still going to do it?”
I had hesitated. I think maybe I didn’t want to get out straightaway because it was cold and I was hungry. Those facts hit me in the warm silence of the car.
I was wrong. I knew I would never rest if I drove off without doing something. I handed my chips back and, somewhat shamefacedly I got out of the car.
“Tell him about the Hope Centre,” I was told as I closed the door and hurried across the road.
“Excuse me,” I said to him as I reached his side.
He looked up at me and my heart broke again.
“Would you like some food? Maybe some hot chips or something?”
His eyes smiled and there was more warmth in that connection that in the whole of the county.
“Thank you, Ma’am,” he responded, “Yes, please. Thank you.”
“I won’t be a moment,” I assured him and rushed back to the shop that seemed to take forever to serve people. However, I was in and out within two minutes and back at his side with the food. He gratefully took the bag and thanking me again he bent his head and started to hungrily devour the contents.
“Thank you, Ma’am,” he repeated as I walked away. I should have thanked him really.
By the time I had crossed the street to my car several other people seemed to notice him there and stopped to speak with him. He raised his head between mouthfuls and nodded to them as they asked him if he wanted anything.
I nearly neglected that opportunity to help someone suffering on that Good Friday, because I felt cold. But if I did stay in the warmth and comfort of my surroundings I would not have seen the ripple effect that kindness has on people all around.
It helps to step out of our comfort zone. I know this. It makes a little difference that may turn into a big difference as the motion of change continues.