2015 was a year of many trips to long-queued government offices in bustling downtown Pretoria for Chandra as she worked to resolve some issues that had arisen with Berakah's governance as a registered non-profit organisation in South Africa. Here is her reflection of one of those days in city centre.
Pretoria City Center… again. Loud, dirty, buzzing with people. I must be watchful. Keep my bag close. Trust few, if any. The inefficiency of the government offices is maddening. I wonder if a fresh coat of paint, a little bit of deep cleaning, and better lighting wouldn’t cheer everyone up, especially those who have chosen the role of public servant.
I give the required paperwork for the third time. And leave unsatisfied, but hopeful that maybe, just maybe, a little bit more progress will be made. Then I move on to the next government office, attempting to get answers to clear the way forward, the future of Berakah threatened by her history.
I noticed him as I hurried past. Dirty, scrawny, knees pulled up to his chest. Blind, with a Styrofoam cup in his hands. No sound from him as the world whizzed by. But I saw him.
On my way back, I decided to get him a burger and a drink and just sit with him for a while. Me, a nicely dressed white woman, sipping a coke on the dirty city street with a shriveled black man whom nobody seemed to see.
But I saw him. Only because, God, you did.
I had to grab his hand to direct him to the cup. When was the last time he felt human touch? When I first touched his arm, I startled him and he shifted away. But he took the coke and guzzled it as if he had wandered in a desert for days. I then directed his hands to the cheeseburger. He took only one hungry bite before putting the rest in his pocket. Perhaps he didn’t want to be greedy. When would his next meal come?
He reached out his hand to me a few times. I guess to see if I was still near. I was. But only because, God, you are.
He tried to hear me speak in his one good ear. I don’t think he could hear or understand my words. I hope he could feel Your love, Your compassion. The people continued to walk by as the two of us sat. They looked. But I don’t think they saw.
Thank you, Lord, that you see, you hear, you care, and you are near. In that moment, all the business no longer mattered. All that mattered was him. Is YOU.
“Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.” —Pierre Teilhard de Chardin