Jon was tired but London never slept. Even at this late hour, there were still hundreds of people out as they walked down Piccadilly. The neon lights of Piccadilly Circus were the backdrop to hooting white limousine's, their open tops bearing screaming, skimpily clad and champagne toting women.
"Whatever happened to the civilised bridal shower?" Jon muttered to himself.
Like the beer-induced vomit that was sure to follow, a great crowd poured out of a comedy club on the corner and loitered in front of them.
Jon and Hans were exhausted after a frustrating ten hour shift. Jon could still recall the Frenchman's rage as he'd thrown his room keys across the mahogany reception desk, snatched the theatre tickets from Jon's hands and dashed across the crowded hotel lobby towards his awaiting car.
Drinking their coffees at a café bar in Leicester Square, they watched the activities in the street out the window. Donation pots stood before the feet of a fire juggler, Argentinean tango dancers and a mime in top hat and tails covered in white boot polish from top to toe, whilst the crowds swelled and ebbed around them.
"There's so much excitement here. People are really into this stuff," Jon said, then continued, shaking his head, "but I really can't see where God is in all of this. Ever since my divorce, I feel ever so far away from Him. Work and all of this doesn't seem to make it any easier."
"He's closer than you might think," Hans replied and nodded towards the door. "Let's take a walk."
Within less than a minute, Hans was leading Jon down a set of weathered marble steps and into a basement hall.
"Do you think He is here somewhere?" Hans asked Jon.
Bodies were all over the room; sleeping bodies in sleeping bags. One stirred and lifted his head. In the dim light, Jon could see the man was heavily bearded with chapped and bleeding lips, his grimy hands tipped with fingernails stained a jaundiced yellow.
A dreadlocked Jamaican man ladled steaming soup into a bowl and handed it over to a famished waif-like young women. She was pulling a plastic shopping cart containing all her worldly possessions. Her grateful eyes told their own story.
"You probably didn't realise it," explained Hans as he waved a greeting to the food-bearer, "but this is a church crypt. It's well concealed between a nightclub and a restaurant so you need to know about it to be able to find it. They open it up a few nights a week as a refuge for those on the street."
Five minutes later they were on a darker, quieter street. Muted stiletto-heeled figures repeatedly walked up and down the same stretch. Occasionally, a car would pull over. Sometimes they'd get in, sometimes they didn't.
Another car passed and a woman got out carrying a small box. She approached one of the figures; there was a short conversation, a handover from one to the other. The first figure bowed her head with gratitude and clicked her handbag closed.
"Drugs, I suppose?" Jon sighed rhetorically.
"No, cake!" said Hans. "It is a special outreach especially for these street workers. It's about letting them know that they are valued and that someone cares enough to make them a cake, not just buy one for them. Sometimes they make pies, but usually a substantial type of a cake…banana bread or carrot cake for instance. I'm sure the fact that women are lovers of chocolate and sweet things has something to with it! Anyway, they chat a little, get to know them and see if they provide any support that will get them out of the vicious spiral that they are in. They don't eat well so the added bonus is that they get a little sustenance too which they can pop into their bags and eat later at a more convenient moment."
"That really is the hand of Jesus reaching out to them, isn't it?" Jon murmured.
"Yes," Hans agreed as they reached the Underground to go their separate ways. "So you see, God is very much in the thick of things here. If we keep walking by his side he will surely reveal himself to all of us no matter what situation we are in. I'll leave that thought with you. Good night."
Jon walked a bit further alone. The more he walked the more he rediscovered God's presence, little by little.
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