A Catholic Monthly Magazine


by Maria Kennedy

by Maria Kennedy

Fruit of the Holy Spirit

Regard for decency of behaviour, speech, dress etc.  Freedom from vanity, boostfulness.  Dictionary.com

I learnt in primary school I was a temple of the Holy Spirit. It seems there is a great range of standards within cultures on how to dress our bodies as temples. There is modesty of dress and then there’s modesty of behaviour. I think New Zealanders are very modest people doing their bit without expecting much in return.

Roger stood with his hands on his hips looking through the ranch slider window down to the garage, going over in his mind what jobs he wanted to get done on the car before lunchtime. Yet as his hand went to slide open the door, Barbara’s voice startled him, throwing Roger off-centre from his train of thought.

“You’re not still wearing those track pants? I thought I threw them out.”

“You did. I found them in a plastic bag and put them back in my drawer.”

Barbara tut tutted. “Those pants are well and truly past their use-by date. Just look at them. They’re covered in paint, the knees are gone, the elastic is loose and now the crutch hangs halfway to your knees. You even have a rip in the back pocket and I can see your underpants. Why they’re immodest.”

Roger had a sense he was wearing old fashioned braces and Barbara was pulling at them just when he didn’t want her to. “They might be immodest if I wore them to the shops but I’m just going to the garage to change the oil in the car. They’re my work pants and there’s still life in them yet. No one’s going to see me.”

oil change

“Well I can see you. There’s no excuse for wearing clothes like that, not in today’s world. And God can see you. Have some dignity for goodness sakes. You’re a temple of the Holy Spirit.”

“God wouldn’t care if I changed the oil naked. It’s people that care what I do or don’t wear.” Roger’s voice sounded irked. “And it’s unfortunate some people care more than others.” With that final dig Roger fled the house.

But Barbara wasn’t about to be outdone and before he could slide the door shut she threw her reply back. “We’re going shopping this afternoon for another pair of track pants.”

It was a lot more peaceful lying under the car and all Roger had to think about was how to unscrew the nut that kept the dirty, old oil secure. He nearly had it and he was just about to slip the plastic container into place when an ominous sound of skidding tyres and crunching metal sounded from the road at the end of the driveway.

Roger pulled himself out from under the car only to see Barbara running towards him with her arms raised and bent at the elbows, so her hands were either side of her head shaking about like warning beacons. “There’s been an accident.”

“It didn’t sound too good either,” Roger replied and together they ran back down the driveway to the street.

In a glance Roger took in what had happened. Mollie their elderly neighbour had stopped in the middle of the road and had half-turned left into her driveway. Roger knew how Mollie liked to navigate her entrance like some billowing ship slowly making anchor. A white Toyota had now crashed into Mollie’s car in the side at the rear. A young woman was held tight in her seat belt with her head slumped forward into the activated air bag; a young child in the back wailed loudly. Petrol was spilling from Mollie’s car. The smell of it was everywhere.

Roger took charge. He turned to Barbara. “Get that child out of the car.” Burt, another elderly neighbour from across the road, stood awkwardly silent at the curb as if something kept him tied there. “It’s Mollie,” Roger called out to him. “Get her out of the car. There could be an explosion. Hurry now.” Burt leapt forward like some ungainly gazelle.

Roger rushed to the driver’s door of the Toyota. The dazed young woman was still trying to work out what was going on. Smoke or steam seeped out of the bent car bonnet. Roger opened the door. “It’s all right. Barbara’s got your little boy.” He leaned in, first grappling with the air bag and then the seat control before finally reaching across to undo her seat belt. Roger tried to reassure the young mother. “It’s going to be ok now.” It had taken all of Roger’s concentration to get her out of the car and it wasn’t until he led her away, she was able to walk, that he realised his pants had fallen half way to his knees. A momentary feeling of alarm and embarrassment flashed through Roger’s mind before he hitched them back up. Someone else had made the 111 call and it wasn’t much longer before the first sirens could be heard approaching.Suburban accident

Once the safety workers turned up, the fire fighters, the police, later the ambulance and even the local newspaper reporter, everything calmed down. By the time Mollie’s car was pushed into her garage and the Toyota car towed away, you were left with only the neon road markings to give any hint of the morning drama. The next day Barbara, Roger and Burt’s photo was on the front page of the paper under the heading “Local heroes rescue crash victims.”

Barbara was in her element. The phone had been ringing since eight and Barbara had a knack, in Roger’s humble opinion, of going over the top. He could hear his wife talking about him like he was some soldier returning from battle, so brave, decisive, the man of the moment, and he wondered how long he would remain in this elevated position. Roger could have pushed his advantage, Mr Fabulous gets off dishes duty, but he preferred to keep his head down. Hadn’t she noticed the whole town had now seen him in those supposedly immodest track pants? Roger smiled. After all that had just happened even he was prepared to admit, once the elastic is gone, it’s time to get a new pair.

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