I had planned to go to the gym right after work. Early during the day I was very energetic and feeling just fine. However as the day progressed I started to feel sluggish and tired. After I left the job I stopped by the store to buy a tee shirt to wear at the gym.
I got on the D train in Boro Park going toward Manhattan as planned to get off in SoHo and spend about two hours working out. As the D train pulled into Atlantic Ave the conductor announced that the train would be delayed at the station for a few minutes due to congestion up ahead. I was feeling real impatient just about then and got off the train. I went upstairs to the street and was unsure in which direction I would be heading. I started thinking that I could go straight home and do my laundry which had been sitting in the corner of my room staring at me for a few days or just keep on making my way toward the gym.
Nope, instead I looked up at the big clock on the Williamsburg Savings Bank building and then at every one scurrying along Atlantic Ave and switched course again. I began to walk over to the book store on Fulton St and purchase the book "Sugar". When I got to the book store I asked the clerk if they had a copy of " Sugar" she looked in the computer and stated that there was not a copy in the store and offered to order a copy for me. I declined believing that I would pick it up when I went uptown to Borders or Barnes and Nobles at a later date. I took the opportunity to browse around with hopes of finding some morsel on the tables or in the shelves that would feed this need to read but nothing quite foot the bill. Nothing caught my eye and I left just as hopeless as when I had walked in. I walked out onto Fulton Street still debating if I would go to the gym or go home.
As I reached the corner I stood by the entrance of the train station for a few minutes entranced by the shops, cafes, people and traffic diversely and rhythmically moving all around me. There I was a vagrant in the village of Brooklyn all dressed up and nowhere to go. It was at this moment that I saw a young Brother and little boy coming toward me. As the young man approached he said, "excuse me sir but I hate to bother you but can I talk to you for a minute?" Immediately I thought here we go again another brother asking for a handout. The Brother looked to be in his late twenty's and was wearing a black hoody pulled over a Yankee baseball cap under a black leather coat with black Nike Uptown's on. The little boy seemed to be nine or ten years old and had a flimsy red plastic looking jacket over a blue hoody which covered his head. I could not see his eyes as his head was cast down. Both of them had their hands in their pockets and seemed to be cold. Maybe they were out in the streets for a little while. I do know that the March wind can deliver a bite in early spring.
My first conditioned reaction is outwardly defensive and inwardly cold. I hid any feeling of compassion or connection at first. Why do I reflexively turn away from brothers that asked for handouts? Why did it trouble my spirit so? Was it because 'there before the grace of God go I'? Do I see myself in my brother? I remember how I was unemployed for years and my friend and his wife gave me and my sons an apartment to live in even when I fell short on rent. I remember my brother giving money every time he got paid. I remember my mother and father giving us food and money. Yes, I was thankful but sometimes filled with shame, embarrassment, and aggravation that I could not provide for us at that moment. I struggled with the anxiousness, stress and hardness of that season in my life. All these thoughts raced through my head as the brother approached.
The young man drew closer and introduced himself to me. He said, ''sir my name is Daniel''...I extended my hand to him with a brotherly embrace and introduced myself then the spirit that resides inside said listen to your brother and look in his eyes. Then Daniel said, ''if you can give me a moment of your time, you see I don't want to trouble you but I am trying to get a few dollars together for me and my family. I have three kids and a wife. We are living in a shelter in Brooklyn right now. I don't like to do this but I do not have a job right now and I am trying to make ends meet.'' As Daniel spoke to me I glanced over at the little boy and couldn't help but notice that he held his head and eyes down. I placed my hand gently on his head and asked him his name he said, "my name is Sequan" I told him that he had some 'big ole feet' and that must mean that he was going to be a great big basketball player someday. We shook each others hand and he looked up with a smile. In his face and presence I saw my own child.
Daniel and I stood on that corner for a few minutes now dividing the word and sharing some thoughts. We talked of opportunities, hopes and dreams. We overstood that we have to keep our heads up and lead our families. We exchanged telephone numbers, ministries, and places to meet. We shared dialog and familiar connections. I reached in my pocket and gave him most that I had including the money for the book that I had sought. Eye to eye we shook hands and parted one from another even if our paths never cross again I met my brother and a friend. As my brother and his son walked up Fulton Street toward Bed-Stuy I manged the lump in my throat and the water in my eye. I blessed them in the spirit as they walked away. I thought I was going to work out at the gym but instead I walked into the set up of the Holy Spirit.
©Gregory Roberson 2010