It was an important meeting of class 8 and their parents at Tigoni Primary. My James is a candidate. I was seated close to the door. She walked in later than I. It took me a moment to recognise her because I am used to seeing her in the universal blue overcoat of her work.
She sat next to me. In my clerical shirt and collar I am difficult to miss. After a whispered greeting I asked, “You have a child in class 8?” Like Peter in the Bible story, the moment of transfiguration did not help me to sound sensible.
The question was probably more wonder than question. I’ve never thought of her as a parent. I’ve never thought that she and I are equal in some very significant aspect. I have always related to her at the level of “my office” and ‘House keeping staff’. And now here we were, seated next to each other; fellow concerned and hopeful parents.
I had the uncomfortable feeling that one of us was in the wrong place. That either she had invaded my space or that I was misplaced. It did not feel normal that I and the person who cleans my office are parents in the same school.
“Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:16
But the way our world is structured is such that we don’t associate. We live apart, take tea apart, eat separately, go to separate cafeteria, go to different hospitals, schools, use different means of travel and even go to churches of our class.
How and when shall the chaplain associate with the person who cleans his office? Is pride and conceit behind our system? Are Christians so patterned after this world that we have ordered our life in such a way as never to associate with people of low position?
We did not have chance to talk beyond pointing out our kids to each other. But I talked much with myself. While we have related well at work deep within I knew that I have been blind. I have not seen her as a person, just like me, a parent with concerns and aspirations just like me. I’ve only seen her according to her job designation and uniform. Yet she certainly is more than that. No doubt in some significant aspects she is more than I am. She is not merely her job group and I mine. Probably in heaven she will be my neighbour. May be in this world my son will marry her daughter and we will be in laws, family!
You can bet I was born again last Friday. The person who cleans my office is a fellow parent of a candidate as me. Are you born again?