By Charlynn Thompson
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The willow tree stood tall and strong. Its branches bending, reaching for the ground as if the earth could somehow loosen the form in which they curved. In the background an old house stood. The windows appeared swollen and through them there appeared no light.
Norah stood looking at the house and trying to decide if she should go in. It was a job, and she needed to make this money to pay the rent that was due. Silently she repeated over and over to herself, “I can do all things with Christ who strengthens me.” Sucking in her breath and looking up to the sky for a sign of reassurance she let out a sigh and walked to the front door.
The man inside was thin and old. His hands were gnarled and his face unshaven. He sat at the table whistling. Norah understood what that whistle meant. It was a plea to be left alone but she was here to care for him.
Paul was annoyed that this young woman had come to help him. He did not ask for it. He was through living his life. Each day that he woke up was another attempt to hasten his death by starvation. This day would be no different. He would not eat, especially for some young girl who looked like she was afraid of her own shadow.
Her job was to clean the house and make a meal for the man. She also needed to persuade him to let her help with a bath and a shave. The task seemed impossible and Paul did not stop his whistle even when she asked him questions. A million things ran through her mind as she swept and mopped his floor. She asked God several times why she had been sent here to be with this man. As much as she wanted to hear God answer her, his voice did not come. She knew that she needed the money and employment was scarce but it was hard to understand why she had been sent here.
Norah had been warned that he would not be kind and she pressed on to find a way for him to accept her. Finally deciding that just getting into the house and having her presence around him was enough for that day.
Grabbing her purse and sweater from the chair she had sat it on, Norah walked over to the table and laid her hand on Paul’s shoulder. “I am going home now,” she said. “Thank you for letting me come to help you.”
Paul stopped whistling and reached into his wallet that lay beside his coffee cup. “Here is your $20.00. I will see you next week.” He replied.
As Norah drove home she thought about the man she had met. She questioned his accent. It was not American. She wondered where this man had come from and why his house seemed so sad. Pulling into the drive way Norah stopped the car. She looked up at the sky and thanked God that he had provided her a job. “Lord,” she prayed. “Help me to love this man the way that you do and take care of him the best I can.” Satisfied that she had done her best for that day Norah went into her house smiling but knowing that she would be thinking of Paul until she saw him the following Saturday.
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