It was late one dark, cold and wet October night when, like many of our team after hearing an unspoken direction while searching for the lost and lonely, I finally found Jesus. As I walked along the edge she became illuminated by the light of my torch, sitting with her legs dangling over the drop, almost shapeless and shivering in her tattered worn coat and falling apart open sandals. I came close but Jesus gently told me not to get too close as the edge was not safe, so I sat down a few feet away and spoke to her, telling of my concern for her and asking for her story.
Jesus said how she had been born into a family to be sexually abused by them and their friends and that when she was fifteen she had run away and lived with a group of people in a squat. The squat seemed good at first, but the novelty soon wore off and she found out that it was cold, dirty and used by alcoholics and drug takers. Money was a problem but she soon became adept at picking pockets and shoplifting, and if things got really bad, she sold her body. “At least I had the choice then” she said with a slight grin, through the stumps of broken and rotten teeth.
Living on the streets was a nightmare Jesus said, telling of how she had been crawled over by vermin, urinated and defecated on by people and animals, spat at, kicked, and beaten up, the mocking sarcastic voices and comments still echoing in her ears. “The bruises and breaks usually healed, but the looks of disgust and the insults and abusive comments never do, they always, always hurt” she said.
I asked how old she was, “Thirty four” was the answer. Thirty four... good grief half my age and I was sure she was only a little younger at best. She turned and looked at me, her tears had made clean tracks down her dirt encrusted face, “and I can’t even sell my body now” she said. Jesus moved, and an expression of pain winced across her face, “everything aches, everything hurts, everything is such an effort, it’s not possible to avoid all the punches and all the kicks”, her ever laboured breathing and feeble voice was evidence of this.
She read the look on my face when the noise echoed around the hills of a speeding car passing by on the nearby road “The world has always been concerned for itself” Jesus said. The wind changed direction slightly and I could sense the unmistakeable smell of her urine, I asked if the black sack I had passed by on my way to find he was hers. “Yes it is, but I won’t need it where I am going” was Jesus reply.
So here we were, me, a man who knew without any doubt just who he was in the company of showing her concern, yet she had the right to hate all men but so obviously didn't, in fact I heard not one word of condemnation and not one word of hate for anyone, just the stories of the events that had led her there.
Then, as the rain and cold increased and in the middle of a scene the world would rather forget, a filthy and unloved victim journeyed to paradise.