“Oh, how I suffer!”
These words are falling from my mouth last Easter Sunday, as I am hobbling down 37th st in Manhattan , my feet are bloody stumps in my tall brown leather Charles David boots, the ones that give me that lovely illusion of tallness, a Starbucks triple grande soy latte is bobbing in my hand. “At least you have a hot coffee ,” Shannon turns and says, she is a few feet in front of me, her dogs are comfortably nestled in well worn cowboy boots. Shannon has no coffee, because she has joined her boyfriend Ian in his boycott of all things Starbuckian, but we both have frozen wind chapped faces and grumbling bellies.
We have been walking forever, it’s Easter Sunday, and we have just come from an inspirational service at The Sacred Center, New York City’s answer to Michael Beckwith’s Agape in Los Angeles. The Sacred Center is a non-denominational church, weaving the teachings of Jesus, Lao Tsu, Krishna, Joel Goldsmith, Buddha, and a bunch of other wise folks into a palatable godwad. Reverend August Gold and her congregation led us through 2 hours of singing, dancing, and prayer that busted open our hearts, causing Christ conciousness to arise from the dusty tomb of our minds. We laughed, we cried, we hugged strangers, and then we left, seeking sustenance. Off we went, on foot, into a sunny, but very cold and windy spring day in Manhattan.
Neither of us live here, and it feels like we have been treking for hours. This is my first trip to the Big Apple Ala-mode, and while Shannon has explored the city a bunch, we still manage to get lost, making wrong turns, and backtracking to and fro. We are in search of the perfect Sunday Easter feast post cathartic heart opening, without going too far from our home base.
Just as I am sharing my pain with Shannon, her coffee comment barely out of her mouth, we look up and we notice it. Dunkin Donuts. Shannon has been talking all weekend about the new ninety nine cent latte currently being served up at DD, she wants to try it, and here we are. Divine timing. The door is opened for us by a man washing the big swinging glass door, and to the right of the door, sitting in a ball, with a blanket wrapped around his shivering body is a homeless man with his face buried between his knees.
We walk up to the counter, and I ask Shannon to buy him a 99 cent latte and a chocolate donut. She looks at me, confused, ” how do you know he wants coffee and a donut?” A line is forming behind us, cause hey, 99 cent lattes! I look back at Shannon, surprised by her question, and reply, ” it’s freezing outside, and I’m sure he’s hungry.” I can tell Shannon is uncomfortable, but I don’t understand why. I tell her I will pay for it, as I ask the cashier to add a chocolate donut and another latte , please. ” Maybe he doesn’t even like chocolate donuts, I don’t want to insult him!” Now I am unsure who this woman is before me, ” It’s calories, who cares if he likes it!” At this point, Shannon and I have only been friends for less than a year, but I really wasn’t expecting this from her. This struggle goes on for a another minute, Shannon mentions not wanting to support the purchasing of empty nutrition, I tell her, ” it just doesn’t matter, now give me the donut! ”
As we are walking to the exit we discover our mistake. Shannon thinks I am trying to buy the coffee and donut for the window washer, and she is trying to be polite in her desperate attempt to save me from my ignorance about the window washers of the world, I am the big city virgin, the sheltered Phoenician. I was trying to get her to understand that when it is cold, and you are wrapped in a dirty blanket, sitting on the sidewalk like a piece of debris, you probably aren’t too choosy about how you get your nutritional needs met. She didn’t see the man on huddled on the ground when we walked in. This still makes me laugh out loud.
I approach the man, bend down, and ask him if he wants hot coffee and a donut. I can only see his blond matted head, when a hand rises from below the ratty grey wool blanket, reaching for the coffee. He looks up and his eyes are the lightest blue, his face is dirty and worn, but his eyes seem to be glowing, staring right into my soul. I smile at him and our hands touch as I pass him the donut, his hands are stiff, they are shaking. My body is vibrating, he says, “thank you and god bless you”, I look right into those eyes, and say back, ” god bless you,” I let go of his hand, and stand up to meet my friend.
There are tears spilling from my eyes, “did you see him?” My question was to everyone, but Shannon was the only one who heard me. Her arms are around me as we are walking, she kisses my cheek, yes, she had seen him too. It was HIM. I am not a religious person, I was actually raised by a Jewish mystic who wore a Star of David on top of a cross on a chain around her neck. My “spirituality” isn’t formal, it’s freestyle, and that man was Christ, the energy flowing from those eyes was pure love, and it shot right into my heart reminding me of so many things I already knew, but often forget. We find a Turkish restaurant down the street and settle in to feast, resonate with, and reflect on our experience.
Christ was resurrected in our hearts this day. It was a perfect Easter Sunday.
Love One Another. Above all else.