Friday, April 13, 2012

The Samaritan.

This short story belongs with a planned series of posts around the theme "What it might look like".  But I will let it speak for itself.  What does it say to you?  Could you imagine "What it might look like" in some other sense? If you think you could, email me - I'd love some other contributions!
 The man lay across the doorway, his head lolling at an awkward angle.  He could have been sleeping off a heavy night.  It was a common enough sight in this part of town, but he gave a restless groan, and his head lifted slightly, revealing a shockingly battered eye and cheekbone.   As he settled back into his appearance of sleep, a trickle of bloody mucus escaped surreptitiously from the side of his mouth, tiny telltale of something far more serious.
As traffic oozed slowly down South Dowling Street, few commuters even glanced towards the stricken man.  Amongst those who did, was a well-known church pastor.  Gliding by in his gleaming black BMW, he shook his head sorrowfully and passed comment to the sleek-suited councilman seated beside him.  “There are so many lost souls in this part of town.  We need a place for them to come.  A worship centre in this part of town will bring light and hope to people who really need it.  We’re talking about so much more than just a building approval, here.” 
The councilman nodded absently.  “Well I’ll be interested to see what you’ve already got going in your rented premises,” he said.
The sun gleamed off the tinted windows of the car, as it purred by.
Presently, came the hurrying footsteps of a young woman.  She was late for a meeting.  The same meeting, in fact, the Pastor and the councilman were heading to.  As a member of the praise and worship team, she was deeply committed to the congregation and its vision for this city.  It was so much more than just “religious observance” to her.  She had a deep desire to make a difference.  If only others could see and feel the love of the Saviour, the way she saw and felt it!
Despite her hurry (for she was running late, and the meeting with the councilman was an important one), she stopped when she saw the man.  Her eyes welled with compassionate tears.  She was torn between her commitment to the meeting, and the desire to help the man.  Another lost soul.  How she wanted to be able to show a better way.  But she was meant to be somewhere else, doing God’s work there.  She prayed silently for the man, and resolved to spend the day fasting for change in the city.  It was with a wrench of spirit that she continued on by.

Again, the man groaned.  As the morning sun shifted onto his face, some flies settled on the corner of his mouth.  Minutes passed, then more footsteps.  They clicked to a halt at the doorway where the man lay. 
“Shit.  Not another one.”  The speaker crouched down, and saw that the man was, indeed, breathing.  Then, noticing the tiny trail of blood, she bent to examine the man’s face.  Pushing his hair aside, she sucked in a sharp breath at the sight of the bloodied and swollen eye socket, at last revealed.  “Oh, Fuck!!” She almost spat the words.  “Fuck, fuck, fuck!!!!”  Scrabbling in her purse, she grabbed for her mobile, and with shaking fingers dialed 000. 
Police and ambulance were quick to arrive.   The appearance of the shaken witness provoked little more than a quickly raised eyebrow from the young constable, who questioned her briefly.  She had nothing to add, other than what was apparent.  It looked like a mugging; the man’s wallet was missing, and there was no ID to be found. 
“Look, Fellas,” she said, turning to the Ambulance officers, “I want to travel with him.  Make sure he’s okay.”
They looked quizzical.  “Are you a friend or relative?”
“Of course not, but can you see anyone else lining up for the job?”
“Sorry, love, if you’re not connected to him we can’t take you.” 
“Well then, tell me where you’re taking him – I'll stick my head in and check on him.”
The paramedics exchanged glances.  Then the driver shrugged.  “I suppose that can’t hurt.  Over to St. Vincent’s.”

True to her word, she turned up at the Emergency department an hour or so later.  The receptionist was brusque.  No.  There was no possibility of visiting the patient.  He had been taken to intensive care. Visiting was limited to “family only”.  In any case, the man was not conscious and had no need for company.  If she wanted to help, she could arrange something with the social worker, who could be found in his office just up the corridor. 
“Bloody beaurocrats”.  She turned on clicking heels and marched indignantly up the corridor.  The receptionist allowed her mouth to twitch, just a little, at the sight of the retreating visitor, before returning attention to her computer screen.

It was some days later, that the patient finally regained consciousness.  The social worker, sitting beside the bed, was helping him to piece together what had happened. 
“By the way, the person who called the Ambulance left something for you,” he said.  “She also insisted on paying for your Television and laundry service.”  Detaching an envelope from his clipboard, he handed it to the patient.  “I’ve been holding onto this for you.”

The dazed and bandaged patient opened the envelope.  Inside, was a wad of notes, a brief letter, and a business card. 
“Here,” Said the social worker.  “I’ll read it for you if you like.”  Unfolding the letter, he began.
“Listen, kiddo,  I realise you don’t know me, but I’d like to help in any way I can.  The money's for whatever you need.  Anything else I can do, just give me a shout –  happy to help.  Too much shit goes on, and we all need a break sometimes.
 I move around quite a lot with my show, but you can contact me using the number on the card.  Cheers, Gloria.” 
Turning over the business card, he commented “It seems you have an unusual patron! – Gloria Estiffana – Les Girls Travelling All-Male Cabaret. – Well, help is help.  She seems quite the good Samaritan!"


  1. I just love you.

    I was especially hit by the worship leader. How many times have I been there before? Yikes!

    This was excellent. Thank you!

    1. Actually, I didn't write it on, because I wasn't sure how comfortable you'd feel - but it has a dedication. It's "For Ethan". xx

  2. Hello there my dear friend :) I loved the 'Samaritan', it is a reminder to me that I am often to busy to stop, look and listen. I pondered on my life over the last twenty years and can only see that life seems to be getting more and more hectic as my children get older.

    Would I feel that my priorities were far to important to help someone in need. It would of course depend upon the situation, I thought. Then realisation set in, I am the queen of excuses and would be able to justify my selfless actions.

    This is why a samaritian always stands out. No matter what is going on in their life they will stop no matter what. They could not walk by, it would bother them and they could not feel comfortable unless they help.

    Christian or not we can all make excuses to stop or not, but I would like to think that someone would help me or a family member in need no matter their religious or non religious status. It comes down to humanity and a concious.

    PS. I live in Townsville

    1. Hello there, dear friend in Townsville!! Yes I have been guilty of "not stopping" too. Many times. And the truth is, we really can't stop and be present in every situation that comes up. But it is also true that love is present. It is what Jesus did, when he got down and dirty and brought himself to where we are. And when we think we are being "religious" by fulfilling church obligations etc. - I think we make a big mistake. We are most like Jesus when we are most present with others.

  3. Christ's parables, for me, as an agnostic, stand out from among the crowd in the scriptures.

    Radical atheists will quote all those old scriptures, supporting genocide and killing babies, as a means of criticizing Christianity. The parables on the other hand are so radically different, and speak to us from down the centuries.

    1. Yes Stuart - that is so true. And I think that is why, if we are to call ourselves "Christians" the reference point always has to be Christ himself. If we find as we read the Scriptures, that HIS words don't make sense - then I think that means we need to recalibrate our interpretation, or at least hold our understanding very loosely indeed!

      So much of what is called "Christianity" today is at odds with the person of Jesus - and we are so used to it being that way, that most people don't even seem to realise it!

  4. Kerry, what a brilliant take on the Samaritan parable. The reality is that, for the Jews to whom Jesus was speaking would have seen the Samaritan in a similar light that we would probably see and judge poor old Gloria. In reality, he was probably a good sort too....!!! ;-)

    I love the spin you have put on this - and that you have not shown the first two as heartless too, because very few people really are heartless. But even many good, caring people are just too busy, caught up in 'ministry' to do something for 'the least of these...'

    Love it!!!

    1. Hey! Thanks for the encouraging words, Dave! I wanted to show how the best of "religious intentions" can be absolutely misguided. I think that was the point of the original. To love God, is to love one's fellow man - and not in a distant, abstract kind of way - it's a getting down and dirty, really BEING there, kind of love!!

      Just a thought - since you are a bit of a writer yourself, would you consider adding to the series??

  5. PS - as Christians - we often make the mistake of thinking that unless we know Jesus, we don't really know love. Maybe it is more true to say that unless we really know love, we don't really know Jesus.


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