Mrs. Van Diemen had made it a habit every day to make a pot of tea at three o’clock in the afternoon. Those who were at home came to the living room or to the garden (that depended on season, winter or summer), and it was cozy to eat a couple of biscuits, drink tea and chat.
Mr. Van Diemen was a policeman and as a rule he came home at seven o’clock in the evening.
All four children were teenagers who went to a Christian school for secondary education. There were three sons and a daughter.
Elizabeth was at home this day, preparing herself for an exam.
Because it was Monday the washing was hanging on the clothesline above the grass field in the garden.
In three weeks time the summer holidays would start and some plans were already made.
The tea was poured out at the round wooden table under a sun umbrella in all the colors of the rainbow, and Elizabeth took a waffle. Mother and daughter regarded each other with curiosity. There was nobody else there. Elizabeth flickered her eyes, and muttered somewhat shy: “I believe that not being jealous is an art, and even Christian girls sometimes have problems with it.” She looked fixedly at the adornment of her teacup. “True,” answered Mrs. Van Diemen. “Already in the Scriptures we find examples of people who were jealous, because someone else was more beautiful, rich, or clever. Apart from that, some people were play-acting, they fooled others with hollow promises. But perhaps you meant something else that bothered you?”
Elizabeth folded her hands and said “Mum, I found out that I am often jealous of Mary, in my classroom. It is childish of me. She is my best friend, but she has qualities which I don’t have, and that irritates me somehow. She is always full of joy and happiness. It seems that she is a girl to be ever daunted. Even though she does something stupid sometimes, or she had completely forgotten to do a particular part of her homework and is sometimes punished by the teacher, she is still content. She says ‘sorry’ and forgets about it. Last week I asked her openly, what her secret was, and I confessed that I was jealous. Well, she was speechless and then she told me, that she was sometimes jealous of me, because I always had good marks for my work. I explained to her, that God gave me the strength and that I usually found things very difficult so that I had to mug for hours in my small room. Then she said that I had all I needed, but they were poor and she was often worried because her father was often very ill.
“I once knew twins, who seemed lovely girls, but they were very mean. That is worse. They enjoyed making me angry.”
Elizabeth took up her cup of tea.
“Mum, yesterday in the Church, the sermon of Rev. Broekstra amazed me, because he drew my attention to the fact that when Elizabeth was expecting John the Baptist, and Mary, Jesus Christ, Elizabeth was not jealous of Mary. It was like he said it to me! He mentioned the sin and the names. It was like a warning, don’t you think so?”
Mrs. Van Diemen nodded and smiled. ❖