Remember Janice? Well, I’ve felt really frustrated with her lately. Some days she or her boyfriend come down three times a day. Always wanting something.
The other night it rained about an inch. In the morning, I found Janice on my porch, wanting me to hire her to pull weeds in the garden.
“It’s too wet,” I said. “Come back at 2 o’clock. You could do it then, unless it rains again.”
Well, at about 11 o’clock, a steady drizzle descended. When I peeked at the rain gauge, it looked like we were approaching an inch and a half of rain. (Canadians, that is 3.8 centimeters!)
The cold hand of fear twisted inside of me. I know Janice won’t kill me. Well, probably not. But I didn’t want anyone in the garden, and I suspected that she was going to throw a fit if she couldn’t make $10. I even called Marnell, and we decided that rain aside, we shouldn’t be hiring anyone to pull weeds in the community garden.
“I guess I can try sitting down and listening to her for a bit,” I said.
“That might be what she needs anyway,” he agreed.
I took the list of 11 Good Listening Tips I had been working on and a roll of packing tape. I taped those 11 tips right to the inside of our front door.
Sure enough, at 1:55, both Janice and her “boyfriend” arrived to work in the garden.
I took a last glance at the list and shot a last prayer to heaven.
Then I opened the door.
Janice came up on the porch. Harold stayed down on the sidewalk and looked up at me through the white porch railing.
I explained the problem. Too wet. Volunteer garden.
“You told us we could some weed at 2 o’clock, Katrina,” Janice said. “Are you going to keep your word?”
(Side note – this is a common trait of beggars/manipulators, saying things like, But you aren’t acting like Jesus!)
“I said, if it doesn’t rain more,” I replied.
“When did it rain?” she asked. But she wasn’t screaming at me like she has sometimes.
“What about those ferns beside the house?” Harold asked from below on the sidewalk. “Last year I cut those down for you.”
Praise the Lord! Thank you Jesus! I had not thought of the ferns, and since they grow beside a cement walk, the rain was no problem. Also (praise the Lord again), I felt calm enough to accept his logic rather than just standing on my word and refusing to hire them. Because I really did want those ferns done.
A few minutes later, Harold was cutting ferns, and Janice and I were drinking coffee on the porch.
“I think I’ve been sick all my life,” she said. “They put me in a special ed class when I was in school. But I’m going to have a good life yet. God’s going to give me a good life!”
She told me that she used to write poetry. There was a poem that went something like ” – in Lemonade State.” That’s all she could remember. Lemonade State. She lost everything from moving so many times.
“You should write some poetry now,” I said.
“Oh, I can’t. My right hand doesn’t work.”
Then she told me she used to draw swans.
“You know why I like swans?” she asked. “They’re so peaceful sitting there on the water.”
“Draw me swans,” I said. “I’ll pay you $10 for them. It can be on grocery bag paper.”
“Oh no,” she said. “I’m going to Walmart and I’ll get some white paper.”
I could have offered her paper, but I decided to let her make it her project.
So maybe her right hand does work?
All I know is, I’m thanking God for those overgrown ferns. And for the ministry of listening. How would it have been different if the ferns hadn’t provided them an income? I don’t know. But, I think Marnell was right. Janice might have needed to talk about her past more than she needed cash.
I’ll follow mid-week with the list of 11 Listening Tips. If you are signed up on my email list, you will get a free printable of the list as well. Just in case, like me, you need to post it!
Will I get swan art? That is part of the mystery of life that has not yet been solved.
Okay, those last lines were the original ending. The mystery has now been solved!
A few hours ago, Janice came down. She wanted butter, sour cream, a sharp pencil, and paper.
Maybe an hour after that, she returned with the piece of art I had commissioned.