Looked out of the window this morning and saw a sleek feisty little mongoose drinking water from the stone bird bath. I hope it does not disturb my shy cobras lurking unseen and unheard at the back of the garden.
That’s the thing about dealing one-on-one with homeless people: they stop being a category – a mental abstraction, a them – and become richly complex individuals with stories as filled with vice and Divine Grace as my own. When I started, I thought I was bringing Christ’s compassion to them – but I realized as time went on that they were really bringing Christ to me. In those weary faces at the tables, I saw Christ staring back at me, asking me where I’d been all this time. He had been out there, in doorways, shivering in cold rains and stumbling in rags and singing to the midnight streets, waiting for me to show up.
Baked a big dish of lasagna for my neighbour yesterday as a cold wind howled and the rain crashed down. Even though she had just returned from hospital all groggy with anaesthetic, she fell on that lasagna like a good greedy farmer’s wife and had two helpings. Her family and guests then ate it up and didn’t leave a scrap. Sometimes I feel so useful and proud of my lasagna recipe.
Now I am looking forward to a long weekend — tomorrow is Freedom Day in South Africa and celebrates the first post-apartheid elections of 1994. I remembering waking that morning in Cape Town and hearing military tanks (those hideous grey-green armoured Casspirs) rumbling through the streets, my stomach knotted with dread and tension. Then turning on the old battered television and standing in wonder as I saw those endlessly long lines of black South Africans allowed to vote for the first time in the country’s history. There was no violence and that in itself was a miracle. But there was also the miracle of having emerged from the darkness of institutionalised racism, a history in which black people were seen as less than human.
Miracles and wonders may not happen every day but they’re out there, breaking in at unexpected moments.
And I have a new wild and wonderful vinaigrette to try this weekend, one that has popped up all over the foodie blogs. April Bloomfield’s Lemon Caper Dressing which sounds a mite mouth-puckering but I am willing to give it a go The indomitable April Bloomfield uses it to dress her pigs’ ears but I am more sedately combining it with cos lettuce, ripe avocado .and spring onions. If it is fine we shall sit out in the winter sunshine eating homemade bread, cheeses, olives and salad, admiring the mongoose.