Kathryn sparked a trail of thought and some memories.
There was a time we were RURALarmy! Having expressed a sense of vocation to the inner city, The Salvation Army decided to send us for trainiing to Chatteris in the Cambridgeshire Fens. When we looked out of our bedroom window we could see Ely Cathedral 12 miles away???
One night there was a call. "Are you The Salvation Army?... well .... there is a homeless man sleeping in the town centre"
Town centre is a very loose definition of Chatteris town centre - a couple shops and a bank is probably closer. I jump in the car armed with a flask some sandwiches and the charity shop keys. Sure enough there was our "man of the road" outside the bank. He gratefully guzzled the tea, ate the sandwiches and was keen to take up my offer of a change of clothes.
So to the Charity Shop. I find him jumper in his size "here you go..." he caught it and smiled through years of grime and a bushy beard. Then he looked bashful. "um...er... would you mind if I had a womans jumper... they are cut a bit wider and are more comfortable...!"
"er... OK...!" - I catch the jumper hang it up and start looking through the ladies jumpers and find one he is happy with.."Would you like some trousers....?" The bashful look makes me nervous. "um... would you mind if I have some womens ..? The elasticated waists are more comfortable...?"
"right - hmm ... OK....?" As I walk to the womens rail I make a mental decision to avoid offering underwear...!
When we tried to offer shelter - he didn't want to know. That was his choice and however hard it was for me to understand that choice it was his. I'm glad of our rural experience. The issues we faced may not have been as intense but they certainly were the same as that we face today in inner city Poplar.
People on the margins have had lots taken from them, sometimes all they have left is the power of self decision and however hard it is to understand respect of that choice is important. When it gets difficult is when those choices self harm.
"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus' use of the 'blindingly!' obvious intrigues me in Mark 10:51
The power of choice?