Sundays in the City – Peta Yowie

I’ve been attending church a lot lately — but it’s what happens after that has been changing me. In church I don’t put much in the collection bowl, often just a gold coin. But when I walk the city streets later, that’s when I give. 

I guess I’ve got to learn to take what I give, which is forgiveness. One young girl I gave a hug and told her to get some help when she said she had been sexually molested the night before. I came home and cried my eyes out; I didn’t think I’d done enough. She reminded me of myself at 15, with so much growing up to do — so much sun and rain to go through.

I’ve seen some people just throw money at the homeless. But I learn their name, sometimes their story too. Yesterday I gave $50 to a man with epilepsy and cerebral palsy because I didn’t think anyone else would help him. Besides, I’m not after a thousand beautiful things.

What good is my money to me, anyway? I’ve got food, I’ve got shelter, I’ve got clothes on my back. Yesterday a man was handing out free books called ‘National Sunday Law’. He asked me if I believe in God; I said I believe in a God beyond God, and he said good.

That was just before I met the man with cerebral palsy — he was an Aboriginal man — and learnt his name means ‘morning sunrise’. He said I would laugh when he told me his name, but I didn’t laugh — actually, I thought it was important enough to write down.

He said he’d been sleeping with his head by a dirty toilet and washing himself in the war memorial fountain; getting robbed because he can’t chase after thieves. I asked ‘Who’s looking out for you now?’, and he told me the lady in the Rolex shop and the Big Issue guy were keeping an eye on him.

He was waiting to get picked up to go to a permanent care home, and he needed to raise money so his place wouldn’t be lost, and he wouldn’t be put back on the waiting list. I hope he woke up this morning in a safe bed to the morning sunrise.

Yesterday’s church service was about loneliness. Among the old fashioned hymns they played a Beatle’s song, ‘All the lonely people’. So I went out into the streets like I always do, following Jesus and his healing ministry, and once more I came home and cried. Yesterday the candles in church were lit for the sexually abused and those suffering childhood trauma. Outside, the city’s drama unfolded.

I can’t bury my head in the crowds. I can’t walk down the street and not see the poor, the disabled, the sick and weak. I saw some graffiti in an alleyway that said: we are not human beings trying to be spiritual; we are spiritual beings trying to be human.

I saw Dame Edna Place, with the beautiful ornate sign and the stars on the ground — but really it was just an empty lane with nothing down there but a homeless man. Ironic, Melbourne!

These are the things I see during my Sundays in the City.