Rain today, and in the rain from the bus I saw a woman selling newspapers. She has to sell them today to eat tomorrow, or she wouldn’t be out in the rain. She was not dressed for the rain. She had the newspapers under the red cloth vest that constitutes the uniform and her main outer garment.
So then I saw a silly tart toddling across the street in boots not properly called sensible and wearing a great, large winter coat and carrying an enormous umbrella. As she drew closer I saw she was of the more aged variety. She gestured commandingly to the woman selling papers and ended up giving her the umbrella. Aha! The boss.
Which makes sense. Who is in charge of somebody so poor she doesn’t own and umbrella or adequate protection against the rain? The vulgar woman slightly better off; the street-tough dame to whom the power to select her wardrobe has recently arrived. No doubt the life of the woman who has to sell newspapers in the rain is hard, but it isn’t somebody who is remote from her who employs her that way, it is somebody slightly better off. That’s how the relationship can be maintained.
And over the not-quite fashionably prosperous woman who’s clawed her way out of the lower layer, is another who can perhaps even think of owning a car and maybe from time to time can take a taxi, and so on.
Who keeps all of this in view? Not the woman selling newspapers in the rain. Somebody far above is conscious of what needs to happen, is conscious of the woman in the rain, but also knows that certain structures have to be in place for her to even have what she does.
I would say that a good few of the members in our kind of churches here (more in some parts of the city than others) are functioning in life but even more and especially in the spiritual life at the level of that woman in the rain.