A roadsweeper’s tale

It’s always the at same festival time.  They come into this city from all over.  They come in here from places I’ve never heard of and never likely to see on my wages.  There’s thousands of them, thousands I tell you: men, women, children cousins uncles, aunties and everything in between. 

 

The trouble is, before the festival proper kicks off, they’ve not got enough to do.  So they kick around the streets eating, drinking, buying their tacky souvenirs and leaving all their mess for low-life like me to clear up.  Some days the streets are so packed that the people are stuck shoulder to shoulder and they move like a wave up and down the street, back and forth.  There’s a scuffle once in a while…or a bit of shouting and screaming at the slightest thing.  Sometimes it’ll be a couple of stray dogs snapping and snarling in the dust, and they’ll form a great circle around, clapping and cheering as if it’s a big deal. 

Other days it will be a juggler or some cheap trickster and they’ll whoop and clap like it’s the best thing ever.

 

This year, it was Jesus who upset all the apple carts.  He comes in here, riding on a donkey like Lord muck, when everyone else is on their two pins.  Without a word from him they all start cheering and clapping and screaming – really screaming.  “God save us” they shout – as if God is listening

Well, if he was – he’s probably deaf by now.  What a racket!  Then it gets really silly and they start handing out great bundles of plants from the fields passing them on from hand to hand to hand. 

Before I know where we are – my lovely clean roads look like the compost heap and that donkey is picking his way across them like he’s the blooming royal stallion or something.

  

THEN some other madness takes hold of them and they start throwing their coats down on the road too.

Now, far be it from me to spoil the party – but they can’t afford it.  These poor folks only have one outer coat – two at absolute most and then on some silly whim they throw them down and let Jesus and his grubby donkey trample all over them.  And they never came back for them either.  So here’s me, going round the city for the next week and a half, clearing up all their lovely clothes.

  

BUT – here’s the weird thing; there was other stuff in there too – strange, unexpected stuff.  I found lots of egos – all colours and shapes – but each one of them squashed flat with the royal seal of Jesus impressed upon the top.  There one or two dreams too – slippery shimmering iridescent things like elastic bubbles.  Each one reflected the colours of the rainbow as I held it up to the light, and each one bore the image of Jesus’ face.  There was a walking stick, snapped cleanly into two halves and tied together with a luggage label “no longer needed, thank you”.  Here and there were children’s drawings – interleaved with the coats.  One of them bore a jagged, spidery drawing of a woman with a purple dress and bright yellow hair  “you mended mummy’s smile- thank you Jesus” it said.  Another bore the image of a spotty, smiling boy’s face – as if pressed up right close to the paper and peering through “I was dead but now I’m not. You’re the best, Jesus” it said.  And there were others – so many others

 Now I’m not allowed to clean in the temple  It’s a special, holy place for special holy people.  Inside it there are special holy things – the like of which I’ll never see.  But I’ll tell you something – If I had my way these things would be in there  -these things with the mark of the king on them.

  

I don’t know much about kings – except that they make mess like everybody else.  But – if there’s a best sort of king then it has to be one like this…like Jesus

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