Christmas

He was one of those men whose

Age was impossible to 

Ascertain – he likely was not

As old as he looked because he

Appeared ancient. Bedraggled, 

Poor, shuffling along in shoes

Three sizes too big stuffed with

Socks that hadn’t been washed in

Months. Or has it been years?

Worn out coat pulled tightly against

The bitter New York wind, hands in two 

Sets of gloves, also worn. And yet,

He looked happy. He smiled at passersby

Not with a smile seeking anything other than

Giving away some strange joy that 

Rested within him in spite of being an impoverished

Homeless discounted black man in 

America the White. 

Past the humming neon

Past the blindingly lit high end

Stores where stylish young

Women took platinum credit cards out of

Four-thousand-dollar purses to pay for

Yet another pair of eight-thousand-dollar

Shoes too uncomfortable to walk in.

Past the Lamborghini and Ferrari

Dealership where glistening vehicles

Await the princes of this world and

Past the jewelry cases full of diamonds and

The exclusive trendy restaurants where

Couples routinely spent a thousand dollars 

For dinner before setting out for the

Theater box seats

Not a hint of envy in his visage as he

Shuffled along, nodding and smiling his 

Greeting to the shocked who mostly

Looked away either in shame or in

Embarrassment or in arrogance.

Small children unskilled in proper 

Class etiquette smiled back not knowing 

The danger of admitting humanity.

Through Times Square, past 

Rockefeller Center with towering

Blinking Christmas tree and laughing

Ice-skaters. Past the theater district, he

Shuffled along without a token for

The subway where more fortunate 

Homeless people slept in urine-soaked

Pants, McDonald’s wrappers at their sides.

On he walked, still nodding, smiling at 

Passersby, through the financial district where

Young men in ten-thousand-dollar suits sped

Energized into fast-forward by caffeine and

Cocaine. Far too busy to even notice him as

He turned down alleys into places only

Ragged and broken people know exist.

There, he paused, moving slowly from 

Cardboard shelter to blanket bundle to

Dumpster to grate where steam emerged

From a nether world where dogs licked 

Scraps of bone.

There, he knelt, and touched, and

Smiled. There, he wiped faces and held 

Hands. There, he prayed and sang

Soft lullabies his mother taught him

Before she died so young so long ago.

There, he waited and watched as

Sirens screamed while far above an

Infant wailed unceasingly, her belly

Craving food, any food, 

Any at all.

There, he held a sick old woman as she

Shook with the chills of fever and wretched

With vomit. He did not seem to even

Notice the smell of feces, garbage, rot, 

Urine, vomit, and cheap whiskey that

Combined to meet the hot steam as it

Joined the frigid winter air.

Friends of his arrived in twos and

Threes as subway cars roared off

Clanking towards another stop. Their arms

Were full of blankets and boxes, the

Boxes filled with meals of protein and

Grain. They greeted him with embraces,

Returning his smile as they wrapped

Cold bodies in waterproof blankets and 

Handed out meals to hungry hands while

Spooning food into those too weak to

Feed themselves. 

Here was Christmas

Here was Kingdom

Here was King

Here was Cathedral

Here were Christians

Here was love

But the world did not notice.

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist Jesus Freak Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, husband, father, grandfather

Posted on December 15, 2020, in Christianity. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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