Monday, December 17, 2007
When a stranger knocks
Two nights ago Peceli and I were still up at 11.30 pm just yarning, when there was a tap tap tapping outside for about fifteen minutes. We dismissed it as something going on in the street, fire-crackers or something, then when it came again Peceli opened to front door to find a very thin young woman standing there. She said she was cold, couldn’t find her brother and wanted to have a drink of tea. Well, Peceli being who he is, said to come in. He turned on the heater, I made the tea, and the girl told us about herself. She lived about 2 k away in a flat by herself with a carer in the daytime as she can’t cook or read, but was looking for a brother who she hadn’t seen for ten years! Very strange. We realized she was intellectually handicapped but she did have a card that showed her address. Okay, we drove her home so she was safe from roaming the street. Well, I hope that was her current address!
We had been reading Psalm 146 as a devotion with our family visitors a bit earlier so realized that welcoming a stranger was part of that Psalm. Okay, we’ve done this lots of times over the years: a boy running from the police one Christmas and his name was Noel, a disorientated woman walking home after leaving a mental hospital, (she came six months later to thank us and she was beautifully dressed and alert) a boy who’d argued with his mother, a bleeding man who’d been in a fight – and the list goes on. The last one was handled by our eldest son (we were away) who gave the man coffee and an offer to phone the police but the man did not want the police to find his attacker. Etc.
Anyway back to this week’s story. Yesterday afternoon about 4 p.m. there was a knock on the door. The thin girl again. She wanted to visit us. Well, this time I wasn’t so hospitable. Peceli was resting after golf and our Fiji visitors were around. It was daytime not nearing midnight. I said to the girl, we are busy with visitors, come again another time. Well, the girl crossed the road, lay down on the grass and kicked her feet in the air, pulled half her clothing off. After her tantrum, she stood up and went on her way.
Now I’m not scared of most situations but I am wary of people who behave in unexpected ways. I have friends who have mental illnesses and they are on medication. Okay. We have members of our church with varying disabilities and that is the way to go – to be inclusive. But there are times when I have to say no to strangers knocking on the door because that girl might come time and time again and I could not handle that pressure.
I know that there have been times my life when I have imposed upon the kindness of friends, knocked on their doors and anticipated a welcome and hospitality. Certainly in Fiji I took it for granted that people would welcome me. Maybe they just had to put up with the jolly woman who took up their time. I have regrets now for being so selfish and inconsiderate. So, what is the right thing to do?