|We now have three boats in the anchorage.|
Then, last week, a shocking thing happened. The man who lived on the pink boat died suddenly one night. Rumor is that the family will come take the boat away.
You see, Oriental needs the anchorage for "cruisers," boating people who move along the coast and stay a few days, helping local businesses with their custom. Boaters who "squat," and overstay their welcome, often derelict, occupy valuable space and scare better cruisers away. Neither the red, pink, nor blue boats were able to go under sail; they were damaged in some way.
|the solar boat|
|the pink boat|
|the blue boat|
I've wrangled with these difficult questions in the past year. People in distress (as these boaters certainly were) need help, and sometimes lots of it for a long time. Should I help someone who is clearly damaging others? It's one thing to spout opinions and rhetoric to such questions hypothetically; it's another to live them out in a community when someone looks you in the face and needs your help. You help. It's the right thing to do. I'm afraid many conservative Christians talk as if they extend help only after a certain list of criteria are met by the recipient. We're rather high-and-mighty about it. I just don't find any such regulations on Jesus's lips.
One Sunday morning in the rain, I dashed back home from church to get something I'd forgotten. Along the way I saw Monique, the French woman from the red boat, walking along the road in a dress. It was a filmy, skimpy skirt, something you'd wear to a bar. She was unkempt, her legs and armpits hairy, her face haggard. I'd offered her rides before, but she refused. However, on a rainy Sunday morning, and me alone in the car, she succumbed and welcomed my offer. In broken English and my horrific French, I learned that she was walking to the Catholic church. She went there, she said, because there was always food afterward. She had no friends here, she said, and no money. They'd found her shoplifting in the grocery store, taking coffee and nutella. Was that hunger? Is it my place to decide?
Still, all I saw in the car with me was a lonely woman who needed her neighbors (temporary as we were) to help her. The walk to the Catholic church was at least two miles! In heels! I felt certain that, for her, she'd worn her best. My help was quite little, just a ride, but I also wanted her to know I cared, that I was friendly to her.
Was she needy? I don't know. I could have dredged up a dozen marks against her, reasons I need not offer even a kind word. Does she need my scowl to inform her that she's on the low end of the humans in the world? Of course not. She's living her hard life every day; she knows that already.
Wherever Monique is now, I hope she knows there's at least a bit of kindness in the world, and that others smile and offer help, whether she needs it or not.