"You know old Jonamiah up there on the hill? I hear tell he's going to give everything away and go into one of those retirement places, some really up-market place."
"Yeah? Really? He's loaded. What's he going to do with everything?"
"Give it away, I hear. He's got three Rolls cars and a mansion full of
antiques, they say. His mates will get it all I 'spose. That's if he's
got any mates."
"'Spose so. You and I -- well we never did have much to do with him.
Still ..., I mean if he's giving it away ... Perhaps we could go up and
do a bit for him. You never know."
"Yeah, you're right. You never know."
So up they went, lawn mowers, hedge clippers, outdoor brooms and a sack
of good intentions in hand.
Old Jonamiah welcomed them warmly, and they were a bit put off with his
enthusiasm. He seemed a bit over the moon that they even bothered to
call, they thought, he made such a thing of it, inviting them to stay
and have a sandwich with him, or tea, or cool drinks. He even asked if
they would come for a drive in the Rolls to look at the new place he was
"Lawns, hedges, sweeping, yes, they need doing. But please, just sit
here on the veranda and spend some time with me. I'd so much like to
talk ... Tell me what you would most like out of life ... Tell me what
you think the future holds... Tell me what you most seek and desire ...
No time? Pity. So much I wanted you to tell me about yourselves. Sorry
you have to go. Sorry..., so sorry."
And the two got on with all the chores. They did a good job, felt
pleased with themselves, caused no bother to the old chap, and just
hoped he would notice how much they had done. Because, of course, you
just never know what he might do to return the favour ...
But old Jonamiah turned away and went indoors, feeling in his pocket for
his handkie. "I loved them so much," he thought. "I just
wanted to give them everything, even take them with me to where I am
going. I couldn't get it through to them that they never could get it
all by what they did for me. They must believe that God: 'is a
rewarder of them that diligently seek him.' And
'seek' is the key word. If they worked for me for a
hundred years they couldn't even earn a down-payment on what I wanted to
Then something like anger welled up in his heart. His frame shook, his
great heart burst and he thundered out loud so that the universe was
agitated and his roar split the sky: "I hate their goodnesses. All
their righteousnesses are as filthy rags!" he stormed, and his
storm circled the globe, blotting out the sun. The earth fell silent.
Then it shuddered and died and Jonamiah wept. "I just wanted their
companionship," he sobbed, "'For since the beginning of
the world men have not heard, nor perceived, by the ear, neither hath
the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that
waiteth for him.' But they just didn't have time for me."