Is it true that you steal?
Once a week on a certain day, the beggars come to Crisje’s house and pick up their lunch, which Crisje cooks for the poor and dishes up in a festive way.
Tall Hendrik knows!
Everyone sees it, many consider it a strange carry-on, but, after all, it is up to her.
There is no one else in the neighbourhood who is prepared to do it, even if they fool others into thinking that they dig deep into their pockets to help and support the world of beggars.
But on the other side of the road, where a rich farmer lives, they never get anything, not one cent.
For that matter, Crisje has already known for a long time, he is the stingiest person she has ever met.
And he could really do more than she can for those misfortunate people, who didn’t ask to have to tramp along the roads.
Always outside in wind and rain, winter and summer.
They are there and they are sitting with Crisje at the table.
But, they are honest people, she doesn’t concern herself with bums, that is supporting the devil!!
Then she could confess day and night and Father would say: ‘Crisje, you must prevent those sins, that is going too far!
You know your people after all.’
Very little is done for the poor, Crisje thinks.
Of course there are also skunks amongst those people who fool you and only do it for the tasty food.
For the rest, you can drop dead.
She has shown the door to a few of those men, however much it hurt her, and they will no longer be welcome.
The people, who now come are good people, they have adapted and know exactly how Crisje wants it.
Praying before the meal, eating with proper table manners and thanking Our Lord for everything.
If they do not want that, they can do a turnabout and get out.
‘There is the doorway ... understood?’
She no longer sees the man who got hold of her mark.
A few days ago, when she had to go to Theet to get some groceries, she saw that man, but he made off.
Crisje had to laugh at what a scaredy-cat he is.
Never ever again would he get another cent!
But what are they?
You could make a fool of Crisje once, and then that was it.
Never come back again.
She did not have any sympathy for them; she thinks deception is terrible and stealing even worse.
After all, they knew that they took things which belonged to another person.
They should just lock them up, for they are no more than prison rabble.
Trui was right about that!
People in this neighbourhood gave very little.
You didn’t have to look far.
The people who lived here went to the brush factory or to Emmerik and the ones who were rich were the worse.
All those shopkeepers, who earned a lot from the poor, the factory workers, gave nothing!
But they ate well from it themselves.
Also from the factory workers.
Those people lived in beautiful houses, had this, that and the other for themselves, and went to the Montferland restaurant on Sundays to drink and eat.
From the poor!
You shouldn’t let them earn another cent!
After all, you were dragged through the mud behind your back.
When you were out their door, you could die, and not one of those people would you see behind your coffin, they couldn’t, they had no time and no feeling for it.
They had nothing, only their earthly possessions.
And still they sat at the front of the church!
Yes, that was something, but it was not her business.
You see, this is what Crisje wonders about.
The rich people sat with their nose right next to Our Lord.
The poor people could take a place behind one of those thick pillars.
It didn’t cost much.
However, for Crisje Our Lord was everywhere, but many other people didn’t understand that and they blamed the church.
And that was not true, what could the church do about it, that one person was rich and the other person had nothing?
People had to sort that out themselves.
They should make sure that they earned more and were not so lazy and...learn to think better.
And then there was something else which wasn’t good; not everyone could own an inn?
Then there would be more inns than houses and it would all be a horrible mess.
You should be content with what you have.
If you could do that, then life would be a joy.
Every day, every hour, whether it was night or day, there would be no change.
Because you would be lying on top of it, and you would be it yourself!
It lived inside you and not outside you.
It was not for sale and such a nice rich place in the church had nothing to do with it, nothing.
That is just illusion and you didn’t have to look at Father with a sour face because of it.
The stubble beards and bent backs have taken their places at Crisje’s table.
She has filled their plates; dinner has started.
It is cold outside, because it is autumn once again.
Jeus looks at the men, at their pimples, those stubble beards and those hanging lips.
They are not wearing any shoes, or decent clogs.
The mice are lying dead in front of the cupboard.
But they can also smack their lips.
Just take a good look at those greasy faces.
Crisje is running back and forth.
She is dishing out fatty bacon.
The home-grown potatoes are a huge success.
Do those men not see, thinks Jeus, that today they are eating the best sort of potato there is?
He has heard, these are pinks, but he doesn’t find out what this means and he therefore asks Crisje:
“What kind of potatoes are these, mother?”
“What do you want to know?”
“What kind of potatoes are they, mother?”
Jeus looks at everyone in turn.
Crisje doesn’t answer him.
She doesn’t boast about things, which you give for nothing.
She is too grateful that these people come and eat with her.
“Oh”, Jeus suddenly utters: “I know already.
Today you are eating Zeeland potatoes.”
The men have to laugh and look at Jeus in a friendly way.
One of the men gives Jeus a good look and then says to Crisje’s great delight:
“What beautiful eyes he has in his head, Crisje!”
“Yes”, says Crisje, “that is true, our Jeus has lovely eyes.”
But the men will also have fun with those nice eyes.
Jeus looks at the whole bunch in turn.
He follows them one by one.
It is as if this boy looks through the walls of a body and sees what is going on inside, and whether there is something hidden away in a corner by the owner which cannot bare the light of day!
Jeus likes to swing, but this swinging back and forth into people is something strange.
He can do that with mother, even if Crisje has not yet experienced it, or spoken to him openly about it.
Jeus sees all sorts of things in Crisje.
He can do that with everyone, including his father, Johan, Bernard and his aunt Trui.
No matter who it is.
Recently he has learned to take a jump and then land in the middle of that human shop.
What you then see is enormous.
Because you cannot reflect upon it so quickly.
First you have to know everything about it.
You cannot give these things a name.
But Jeus knows what pinching is.
And one of those men, he pinches ...
That is exactly the same, according to Crisje, as taking things from another person, which doesn’t belong to you.
That is pinching!
Jeus strokes Fanny’s back and looks.
He is leaning against the door-post.
He watches the men eat.
He goes out of them, as if they were shops.
These doors are no bother to you.
No door of such a shop is locked.
Why do these people do that, it seems very dangerous, because mother locks all the doors in the evening.
Even the pigsty and the chicken run get their turn and that is also because of pinching; for people who cannot keep their hands to themselves.
That is stealing!
People now have their doors wide open.
And there is no darkness either.
A light is always burning, sometimes very faintly, but not one is sitting in the dark.
The men continue to eat.
Crisje sits and watches contentedly.
It is a pleasure to her that the men can enjoy their meal so much.
When Bernard comes home he walks round grumbling.
Bernard cannot stand those tramps.
If that boy got his way he would kick all that scum out the door.
But Bernard is not old enough to change anything about this.
These are matters for father and mother.
But wouldn’t you just want to throw them out!
It doesn’t bother Johan, but neither of the two are at home when this moment approaches and mother Crisje’s kitchen is a flea circus like no other.
Which is what Trui calls it and perhaps she is quite right about it as well.
The oldest boys come and go.
Usually don’t make themselves seen.
Jeus is sitting there and thinks it is a real feast, because he can intertwine with their hearts, see the light within them and do so unknowingly.
Because the owner is extremely blind!
Jeus sees that a person is like a house, similar to a mole under the ground, those nice black animals, one of which Bernard caught by sticking a spade in the ground and stopping the animal in this way.
But it was almost dead immediately.
Bernard said to Jeus: “If you just get them by the nose, they are already half dead.
Just take a look, it is almost dead as well!”
Jeus thought it was terrible.
He felt the warmth of the animal, laid it lovingly against his cheek.
You still felt the ticking inside ... tick ... tick ...
Then it stopped.
Then that lovely woolly thing became ice-cold.
No, not that, it wasn’t like ice, that skin stayed warm.
‘It was worth fifteen cents’, said Bernard, and an hour later he was chewing boiled sweeties.
He didn’t get fifteen cents for it, but seven and a half.
And boiled sweeties were nice, you could have a good suck, or peanuts.
two for a cent, baked nicely in white crystal sugar,
With peanuts inside, you could never get enough of them.
Bernard certainly knew a lot about life.
Jeus stood there staring!
However, he had learned everything about moles, everything!
Why did those animals live underground?
People were like that as well.
They also lived in darkness.
These people here did not see that he entered their house with a spade and could do what he liked.
Didn’t they know that?
Then this thinking and eating was rudely interrupted.
Suddenly that man heard:
“You must not steal anymore!”
The men stop eating.
They all look at Jeus at the same time.
“It is him, mother, this one, who thought that I have such nice eyes!”
Crisje does not doubt the truth of it for a second.
Crisje is trembling.
She would never have believed Johan and Bernard, but this is something else, it is Jeus!
The old man becomes pale.
He almost chokes on his potatoes and refuses to eat any more.
Something snaps inside him and now things fall down.
It becomes noisy, the inner house of man is in an uproar.
Crisje asks him straight:
“Is it true?
Do you steal?
If that is the case you can get out of here!
We don’t want anything to do with crooks.”
Is it the case that the man suddenly wants to better his life or that he feels the end approaching?
It could be that this is a judgement for Our Lord, because there is a child involved.
It could also be that the same man, if he is caught, has the feeling and the good sense to admit to it, because he feels that otherwise it will be even worse, and now wishes to save what can be saved.
The man says honestly:
“Yes, aunt Crisje, but I will not do it again, never again!”
Crisje has sacred respect for this.
This is so powerful for her and Our Lord, the church and her personality, that she can forgive that same man everything and more.
He therefore hears it immediately, there follows:
“God will bless you, if you tell the truth honestly and you mean what you say.
I tell you, our door is not open to liars and drunkards and crooks, because my husband will give me an earful, and he would be right about that.
But I’m still here myself!
And to add to it, you can go to prison and there is also a purgatory.
Where you will burn for eternity.
Shouldn’t you be thinking of that?”
“Yes, aunt Crisje ... yes and yes ...”, Crisje hears.
The man confesses everything ... gives into it, because he is in a bad position.
He feels boxed in.
It is warm and sweat pours from his head.
“You should be ashamed!
Did you also steal the apples and the eggs, which I got from you when I was confined with Gerrit?
Did you let me eat stolen goods?
Tell me now.
I would think that was scandalous!
The man cannot say a word, Crisje.
“I should have known it, but thank God.
I gave those eggs to another poor person.
We have our own chickens.
If you pull that off on me again, you cannot come back here anymore.
Have you understood?”
“Yes, aunt Crisje, of course!”
What a cursed urchin that man is.
Jeus follows another person and asks why this man doesn’t bring his dog sometime, and then it can play with Fanny.
Crisje senses that Jeus has got hold of another victim.
Jeus looks through these people, he knows how they think and feel, for he knows them.
“Do you have a dog?”, Crisje asks curious.
“Yes, aunt Crisje, a nice one as well.”
“It is true then, isn’t it?
Will you bring it here?”
“Yes, aunt Crisje, I’d like to if that is allowed?”
Jeus sees that when the man laughs it takes ages before his face returns to normal.
Jeus likes him a lot, because he is much the same as himself.
Crisje likes him as well; he is a good person,
But there are rogues amongst those other seven.
They gobble up their food and do not dare to look at Crisje or Jeus.
They have something on their conscience.
Jeus asks one of the men if he has been beaten and whether his wife drinks like a fish.
When Crisje asks the man whether that is the case, the soul confesses that he isn’t doing so well and that he just walked out the door.
Because there are always arguments, always misery.
He cannot live there any longer, which is why this man roams about.
And then Crisje hears:
“Yes, aunt Crisje, I ran away!”
“From your own wife?”
“Yes, aunt Crisje.”
“Was it that bad?”
“Yes, I couldn’t stand it any longer.”
“And are you never going back home again?”
“No, aunt Crisje, I don’t dare go back there again.
She will throw me out the door and everything at my head.
I have no life there anymore.”
“That is bad, just terrible, especially at your age.
Can you pray?”
“No, I didn’t learn to.”
“But you must still pray, without prayer you will never make it, the heavens will remain closed to you.”
“How do I do that?”
“You can pray like you are talking to me now, then it happens on its own.
Our Lord will hear you, and that is a prayer and it will always be heard.
But I will help you, we will start straight away.”
The vagabonds have to follow Crisje, they do not like it much, and it is so long ago since they joined hands to give thanks.
The wild life has beaten it out of them.
And what does that woman want with their souls?
The food here is tasty, it doesn’t cost a cent, but to pray as well?
One looks at the ground, another one wonders how long it will take and plays with his fingers.
Crisje looks at the men.
“It isn’t possible like this.
On your knees, on your knees and quickly.
Do you want to thank Our Lord like that?
He doesn’t accept this.
Where is your reverence?
How He suffered for us!
People nailed him to a cross, which is why there is such misery in this world, those stupid people!”
Crisje precedes the men in prayer.
She prays, she begs for that one man, that he may come home again and his wife may repent.
Crisje thinks of everything, it is a very simple prayer, but it comes from deep in her heart.
It is also pure, Father could not improve on it; her confessor has known this for a very long time.
Crisje also prays that she will not cast any pearls before swine, that she will always be able to help the really poor people, as that has now happened through Jeus, and that she will not get any thieves, drunkards and scoundrels in her house.
She doesn’t want to help any devil, any Satan, even if she is visited by such ‘lice kings’, it does not matter to her ... as long as they are well behaved and honest.
She doesn’t want anything to do with prison villains!
This man suffers from epilepsy and that is terrible, ‘Our Lord, that is terrible!
If it is possible, You can take that away from him, for You everything is possible!’
And then it is amen and the men are allowed to stand up.
They are allowed to breathe again, they may come back again if they do not try to pull a fast one on themselves and this world.
Otherwise they can just clear off.
Crisje does not cook for an underworld.
The men leave one by one, they thank Crisje kindly.
Crisje clears up the mess.
So when Tall Hendrik comes home everything is in tip-top condition again.
He never hears anything about this, because it belongs to her own life, her soul and her world!
He may sing and play the violin, Crisje cooks for the poor and that is everything which she has in her life, nothing else, nothing.
But this is her great happiness.
Happiness shines from her eyes.
She gives Jeus a nice cuddle.
He gives her life.
He lives under her heart.
Where Crisje is she finds her Jeus.
When the boy follows her sometimes, these lips say:
“Are you happy mother?”, as if it is Our Lord himself, who sees how she can be pleased that other people may forget their misery for a moment through her doing!
“But you saw that, didn’t you, Jeus?”
“Yes, mother”, he doesn’t say more than that.
The child is not aware of what it is; the child does not feel that this is something special.
It is all so very ordinary, but Crisje knows better.
It is gold, it is light, it is more than a thousand guilders.
You cannot buy this, you cannot learn this, this is from Our Lord and a great mercy.
For this one, Crisje knows, she doesn’t need to have any worries in this life.
She sees an open path for this one.
It is certainty.
No darkness will lay this life low or crush it!
This is light.
It is life, peace, love and it is in no way secretive.
If only you want to be good yourself!
And Crisje felt that in her.
Then, when she experienced that unity, they could speak to each other heart to heart; she could float, experience the silence, pray and give thanks at the same time, so that life could be called good.
There was no question of hardness, not understanding, thinking badly about a person.
She felt only an all-empowering love!
When Bernard and Johan come storming in, the whole mess has been cleared away.
Bernard is already squabbling, but when Crisje looks at him and the child says something, Bernard also bows his head and says: “Yes mother ... I will be careful.”
Crisje sees that Bernard can quickly accept.
Johan, who cannot give an opinion, feels this differently.
Crisje compares the children through each action.
The boys are getting their own opinion, they open and bare themselves, so that Crisje sees that their life is speaking.
“You see, Bernard, those people are poor.”
“Can you understand, Bernard, if you are old and you have nothing to eat, that you will also be happy if there are people who will feed you?”
“Of course, mother!”
“And especially, Bernard, if they throw you out, if they cheat you under your very nose, if they pester you that you must move on, you will be grateful to Our Lord, if you get a spoonful of food from another person.”
“Yes, mother, that is terrible, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is, Bernard!
And that’s the way people should always think.
Did you think, Bernard, that we were so sure of ourselves?”
“Of course not, mother!”
“Did you think, Bernard, that we could live without prayers?”
“No mother, that is bloody wrong, isn’t it!
That is altogether wrong, mother!”
Crisje had wanted to say to Bernard, for goodness sake, not to use such words in Jeus’ presence, but Bernard has already forgotten, besides, Jeus didn’t hear anything.
Crisje leaves it; Bernard is a good talker.
Between him and Crisje is the cellar, and Bernard wants none of that, ‘nothing, mother Crisje, nothing!’
“What did you do all day, Bernard?”
“I was playing, mother.”
I can’t just say.
I played marbles.
And I won as well, mother!
Nothing else, nothing else, Crisje.
Bernard is playing nicely, Johan as well.
But you never know what they have done.
You do know from Johan because he gives himself away.
It is not bad, it is going well, you can’t complain.
But they are becoming older by the day.
They are learning a lot of things from other people, they see nice things, which you cannot give them, but which they long for.
They do not steal, only get up to mischief, nothing else, nothing else!
When Tall Hendrik comes they are all together.
The food tastes good, they do well with it.
He must go to his quartet.
Crisje has the whole of this evening to have a lovely think.
One thing she doesn’t know yet, that she can give all those tasty potatoes to the pigs the following week.
Because most of the men will no longer come.
What you must pray and give thanks for, their stomach refuses.
That is too difficult for the majority.
Two men will come and later another one again.
The rest of them have succumbed!
And now the angels are also watching that Crisje is not deceived with her eyes open.
Jeus looked through the eyes of another and that other person had the same goatee beard as Tall Hendrik ...
Only this one had nice long hair and they called him a different name, then at least a different name when he was still a real person.
Where he now lives there are no people, at least not like people imagine and know, that a triangle became square, or round.
But who understands the dimensional laws here?
Jeus will explain this to Crisje one day and even then it is the wisdom of another, of this one.
He ... who is only light and wants the best for you all.
The man with the nice goatee beard and nice long curls!
The doves also know ... because they fly, and everything that can fly, comes close by ...
Go higher, and look out.
Every step costs an effort, Crisje.
But it is worthwhile!
Have the courage to go further ...
Jeus is always there, always.
You will never be alone again, never!
You will see for yourself!