Sing Alleluia, and keep on walking

Thanks to @DrBattyTowers for the title of this post. I know she’s used it, too; I just couldn’t think of a better one for what I’m going to say later.


Image from Miss Music Nerd.

Holy Week has been and gone; Christ is risen, and walking amongst us.

Yesterday — Easter Day — was a varied one for me. I woke early, having been up late enough to notice that yes, my various devices moved over to Daylight Savings Time, which is called British Summer [sic] Time in these parts. I spent some time in the excited and enthusiastic preparation of my Easter Bonnet:

then took myself off to church, to put it in action (see organ shot above).

I came home, was too excited to really eat properly, and my housemate wasn’t home yet. So, because I am just a bit of a church fan, and because the chicken in the slow cooker wasn’t going to suffer for cooking a few more hours, I put my hat back on and turned up at Southwark Cathedral for Evensong. Note: if you ever want to be noticed by members of the clergy, turning up in a silly hat seems to work quite well.

This also attracted the attention of some friends among the lay clerks, so I ended up having a congenial pint post-Evensong before heading back to the Cathedral for Compline — a bit early, but I do love that office.

Heading home I didn’t get very far very fast. Waiting to cross the road, I saw a man opposite stumble, stagger, try to stay upright, and fall. By the time the lights changed and I had crossed the road, someone had called an ambulance, a couple of people had gathered around and many more had moved on.

There wasn’t much to be done. The man was insensible, delirious perhaps, semi-conscious. He was unkempt and ruddy-faced, wearing dirty clothes that didn’t fit well. He may have been homeless, or just very hard-up. He might have been drunk — or he might have had diabetes, or a serious head injury, or a number of other conditions that can cause similar symptoms and behaviour.

Whatever his problem, it was evident that being cold wasn’t going to make it better. I emptied my pockets into my handbag, took my coat off, and used it as a blanket to keep him warmer while we waited for paramedics to turn up. Occasionally, sitting there, I tried to make him more comfortable. I tried to understand what he was saying, but couldn’t make most of it out. He wet himself twice, while we waited. Thankfully I was sitting uphill. I tried to find out his name, where he was from, but the most I could make out was him shouting for, at or to someone called Johnny, and a “good girl” when I put my rolled-up jacket under his head as a pillow.

The paramedics turned up the better part of an hour later. I won’t comment on what took so long; triage is hard. Many thanks should go to the man in Oddbins at London Bridge, who called the ambulance initially. He also loaned me a jacket to keep some of the wind off me while I waited, brought tea to the three of us who were waiting and conscious, gave me a bin bag to put my coat in afterward, and let me use the staff loo in the shop. I’m grateful, too, for the other two girls who waited with me: I would have felt more vulnerable without their company, given that not everyone takes kindly to the sight of a drunk guy half passed-out on the street and a woman in a crazy hat. The paramedics, on arrival, seemed kindly as well as clinically competent. My housemate, his dinner with me now rather delayed, brought my other coat with me to the Tube station, so I didn’t have to walk home in the cold or put on the black coat, now filthy to the point of being unwearable.

But this post isn’t, in fact, about acclamation for good deeds. I’m no Good Samaritan: I didn’t stick around to find out what happens next, to ensure that the patient will be all right after the hospital is done with him; I’ll probably never see the man again.

Rather, I wish to ask:

What does resurrection hope mean for people who are in the position of the man I sat with yesterday, waiting and watching? What does resurrection hope mean for society’s most vulnerable, here and now?

And what are we doing about it?

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