The Difference Between Food and Restaurants

Thursday, 28 January 2010

I saw K tonight.  She has been homeless for I don't know how many years, has lost track of how old she is until her assessment worker told her today (55).  K is hoping that Centrelink are going to start paying her some sort of an allowance.  She has fallen through the cracks there.  They keep putting her on Newstart allowance even though I'm not real sure how you can manage to get a job when you are sleeping in a a park and showering in a train station and you don't know when your next meal will appear (tonight, it was a ham and tomato sandwich from some bloke from a nearby cafe.  They do look after her).

"Hey, will these fit you?"  K asked me, as we both sat on the ground with her artwork surrounding us.  She took out of her bag a pair of Ripcurl white jeans, ladies size 14.  Probably a pair I could fit into if I keep doing yoga for another month.

I have no idea how these jeans came to be in K's bag.  Apparently someone in the park had them.  But I took them, because I take everything K offers me - well, everything except one of the ham and tomato sandwiches.  It wouldn't keep till the next morning - not with tomato sogging it up, but I couldn't eat it because it was ham, I explained.  But most of the time I eat her food - last week we ate a nectarine each.  I'd rather take a pair of stolen white jeans that won't fit me for another three months than to say no to them because I want our friendship to be as equal as it can be.

We were both in happy spirits today.  K has had the flu earlier in the week and is struggling now to make up for the days she missed, bombed out on cold and flu tablets.  I bought a card off her today, one of her cool little designs she's doing now, $7.50 for a card with her awesome geometric designs on the front, hand drawn.  I slipped her another red lobster because she was struggling to keep up and then I will go and ask my mother for some money when I run out from gving K money but that's the trickle down effect, right?  :)

So we were both happy to see each other tonight.  I'm so out of the loop I sort of forgot it was Thursday night and I rounded the corner and there was K in her customary spot.  I walked up and said,

"What the hell are you doing here?  It's .... it's ... it's Thursday."  And we grinned at each other.  And K told me I bring her luck because while I was sitting there someone else slipped her 5 bucks and suddenly she was 25 up on what she was five minutes before, which was kind of cool.

And I'd had a shitty sort of a day seeing the thoughts go through my head about depressing things and over and over again having to say to myself, "Well, no, that's not true.  You're not a loser because of XYZ."  It's a bit of a theme at the moment with me.  The tail end of my depression and isolation and the thought monkeys are chattering.

But the flipside of chattering thought monkeys is walking outside of your workplace, and suddenly you think a thought - or maybe it thinks you - "The joy of the Lord is your strength."  And you could read that in the Bible, or someone could tell it to you from theirs, and it would have about as much resonance as a brick.  Because nothing from God comes secondhand, nothing.  But tonight, it thinks you, and you feel it, it resonates like a universe, and you feel God bubbling up in your chest like a fountain.  All that living water, and suddenly you feel it and it's like you are cloaked in this godness, and it encourages goodness, and you love everybody in the street suddenly, as if you'd just taken a few tokes on a joint, but it's not, it's just the heart bubbling.  And you think,

"Goodness me, how I have missed you."

The past several months have reminded you how black things can be when the presence of God is not felt.  When you don't even really believe that God is there.  When the numb looms up and threatens to overwhelm you.  When you think that maybe you are lost after all.  And then suddenly, out of the blue, there he is again.  Unshackleable.  He will not bend down and do your bidding, he will not.  And you can feel him laughing at you for thinking that he would, but he knows that you do not suffer from that misconception.  But you still try anyway, out of pure rabid frustration and hurt.  You try and he will not bend.  And he says,

"You have no idea what I doing, not in him, not in all the things you think you have an idea.  You have no idea what I am up to."

And so you walk to the train station.  And you realise that you have shifted your perspective from the train station back to your workplace and yet now here you are walking back to the train station again, and you have shifted from first person to second person and you think, ah, what the hell.  A bit of variety is always spicy.

And so you get to the station and suddenly, even though nothing is different and you still have the headache that has been plaguing you all day, and the tiredness from not having had enough sleep last night because you were out having a delightful day with your most beloved cousin, and even though you still feel like your heart is gaping open and ugly and you do not know what God is doing or if God is doing ... nothing is different and yet everything is different and suddenly you're back in the feeling again of being enveloped, and you know that in this space you do not need very much at all.

And you and K talk and chat and you are both happy and cheered to see each other and as you share your cheer it multiplies so that when you leave each other behind with a hug and a blowing of a kiss across the grey concrete of Flagstaff Station you are both twice as happy as you were before you saw each other.

And you talk a little abut God and about how you are feeling him bubbling away in your chest.

And K pounds lightly on her own and says that yes, she has no doubt that God is in here.

And then you go off on a philosophical ramble about the past three thousand years of human civilisation and how long it takes us as people to learn anything and you say that hey, isn't it funny how all these centuries and millennia God has been seen as a bastard and imagine if he is wonderful.  Now, there's  a concept.

And you agree that organised religion is a distortion of everything, the same way that bureaucracy is a distortion of our ability to be able to be and do for each other what is there waiting if only all the red tape would bugger off out of the way.  And then K says,

"I think that the difference between organised religion and the experience of God is like the difference between eating good food and then just being in a restaurant.

Don't forget," she calls as we walk away from each other.  "He's in here," pounding gently on her chest.


  1. "Isn't it funny how all these centuries and millennian God has been seen as a bastard and imagine if he is wonderful. Now there's a concept."
    Yah I still get stuck there at times. The voices of my fundamentalist past rear up and drown out the voice of the Loving Father, I'm beginning to know. Usually end up with a bit of a yelling match at God, in my own heart I'm an atheist to the fundi God I grew up with, but scared that I'll find that the voices from my past were right, then what the hell will I do. Most people don't realise what a nasty brush we paint God with... Enjoy your day...

    Cheers Jon

  2. Wow, Sue, this one really got me. I can't explain it here cause I don't have the words but, yeah, this got to me in an important way.

  3. Jon - yes, it's funny isn't it how it comes up and bites you again sometimes?? Just when you thought all those silly ideas had passed. I love what you say: "I'm an atheist to the fundi God I grew up with". I guess if you find the voices from your past were right, you're going straight to hell. 'Cos that's the climate of that sort of God, isn't it'. No turning circles at all. What a crock ... :)

    Barbara - coolness! I love those "I can't put this into words" moments. They're the best sort.

  4. oh my
    K is full of wisdom
    thank you for sharing that

  5. Ain't she just full of wisdom, Kel!

    My daydream last night was that when I move house, it's to somewhere that has an attached granny flat and she can get off the street and have room and food and time to make art on a table instead of the ground. Wouldn't that be cool :)

  6. "He's in here", too.

    Yes, cool daydream!

  7. Norm, yeah. Who knows where these daydreams lead, I guess? And anyway, even if they don't lead anywhere, the possibilities are as endless as the daydreams being dreamed, mereckons :)

  8. What a great story Sue
    You have lifted my spirits and today has been one of those impossible days where I felt the numbness. Thanks for bringing back the hope and the love

    Hugs to you sister :-)

  9. Yay Wendy!! I love to hear that. There is surely nothing better than knowing you've lifted someone's spirits. We all live in the numb days, and I think we all feel like we're the only ones :)

    Hugs back


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