On Monday, I found myself jammed into the extremely crowded "4 train" that I caught at the corner of Lexington and 125th Street in the Bronx. I was on my way to Yankee Stadium to see the Chicago White Sox play the Yankees in what in the seventh to last game to be contested in the historic, old stadium. Definitely stuff for a future, less serious post.
As we all stood literally nose-to-nose, the train stopped and even more folks crowded on. Among them, a blind man with a long, white walking stick. He carried a large plastic cup extended before him to receive offerings in exchange for the message hecalled out kindly to one and all. Unlike most street preachers, this man's message was much more subdued with a sadness about it that reflected his own disposition.
I noted that two rather dramatic scars crossed the side of his face, apparently the work of someone wielding a sharp knife at some point in his not too distant past.
He took his text from St. Paul's epistle to the Ephesians as he called out that we all should concern ourselves with dressing in the "whole armor of God" so that we could stand successfully in these evil times against the source of all evil.
Being accustomed to such sights and sounds, I suppose, most people paid the man no attention whatsoever. A few others turned away in a sort of spontaneous embarrassment for the man. Other reactions ranged from curiosity and amusement to disgust.
The street preacher passed within a foot of me as he made his way right down the middle of our car. He preached and felt his way along step-by-step. To be honest, I didn't know what to make of the fellow. I do expect his chosen method of communicating his message may need to be rethought a bit. But, then, possibly that was not his concern or the point of his presence.
I'm not sure how many others, if any, saw what I saw next right at the end of my encounter with the man.
He got off the train at the stop just after he entered. As the train pulled away from the stop, I turned and looked through the window in the door. There he was. Head bowed. Hands folded and drawn up to this face, the strange, blind gentleman had turned back to the train as it began to move. He was praying for us. Undeterred by the total lack of response on our part, the man who couldn't see completed his tour by offering a prayer for everyone on our car.
As the train moved down the track, I watched as he crossed himself and turned to move up the platform toward the steps, tapping his way with his white stick and continuing to call out to those who had no time for listening.
The man's face and his gift of a prayer. . . that image will be with me for a long time, I know.
Answers to the little quiz posted yesterday:
1. Based on the 2006 census data, how many individuals live below the federal poverty line in Dallas County?
2. Of those living below the poverty line in Dallas County, how many are children?
The answers are "a" and "b"
Stayed tuned for a grassroots effort to challenge the food shortages facing low-income neighbors here in Dallas--coming September 29, 2008.