The Witness

Being a witness for God can take many forms. We should concentrate on being faithful and He will do the rest. And we should never underestimate His ways and means.

The elderly priest gazed out over

His sparse and ageing congregation.

He decided to tell them a story,

For their encouragement and consolation.


Many, many years, long, long ago,

In a town, located somewhere else,

A young man had grand ambitions,

For status and financial recompense.


Being somewhat educated and able,

And his father having the right contacts,

He got work with a firm of accountants

To learn the secrets of wealth and tax.


They gave him a fine desk for his use,

On the second floor beside a big window.

There between the huge ledgers he toiled,

Betimes looking down on the street below.


As the days and months came and went

He began to recognise the regular people,

And became aware of a lame old woman,

Whose daily struggle was quite remarkable.


She walked with a slow, shuffling gait;

Taking ages to cover the shortest length.

Her morning journey to the church opposite,

Seemed way beyond her feeble strength.


Every day, come rain, hail or shine,

This little old lady plodded her path.

There was no doubt each step brought pain;

A penance to counter her god’s wrath?


Maybe it was loneliness, maybe so?

Why else would she endure such distress?

A daily outing to meet up with her pals,

But what a wrenchingly painful progress.


His parents hadn’t bothered with church;

He himself had no truck with religion.

He felt sad for the woman, even angry,

That her god could cause such attrition.


Came the day when she never appeared.

Maybe at last she had seen how pointless,

How needless, how cruel, such a travail?

Nothing to be gained by being too pious.


A few days passed and he couldn’t forget,

And wondered what had become of her.

Surely she had decided enough no more?

But she hadn’t seemed like being a quitter.


In spite of himself he couldn’t shake off

That vision of needless, aching effort.

He knew he had to call into that church

And inquire after that nameless stalwart.


He was no shrinking violet but even so

It took a couple of days of self-convincing,

Before he stepped across the threshold,

Into a world both alien and daunting.


He was surprised to find nobody about.

He’d come too early before their meeting.

The place was empty but didn’t feel so;

The very silence somehow a greeting?


His reverie broken by a friendly voice:

“Hello, I’m Father John. First time here?”

He found himself blurting out: “There’s an

Old woman comes but she’s failed to appear.”


The priest looked straight at him and smiled:

“D’you mean old Mary? Are you a friend?”

“Not as such, just someone… who cares.”

“She had a fall, but she’s on the mend.”


“Why? Why did she endanger herself so?”

The young man was clearly quite angry.

The priest was silent, but regained his smile:

“Ask her yourself – the Royal, ward three.”


He did meet her before she went to God.

She shared a simple faith of loving regard.

She spoke to doing little for gaining much,

And how her trek to church wasn’t that hard.


She took his anger and returned a peace;

Her joy spoke of a treasure beyond price.

Without clever words she exuded grace;

And kept referring to a bigger sacrifice.


The elderly priest gazed out over

His sparse and ageing congregation.

“Old Mary really touched that young man:

Through her, I found God and my vocation.”