A Holy moment in the Big City

      Comments Off on A Holy moment in the Big City

 

Kwadjo Boaitey

Reprinted from the  Christian Science Sentinel.

 

One of my favorite Christmas memories takes me back to a New York City street, far away from the sweet-smelling, familial Christmas celebrations of 

my youth.  I was in my mid-20s, living in New York and making good on a dream to become an actor. I met and became friends with a teenager called Josh (not his real name) in Manhattan’s West Village. We worked together at a local restaurant. Josh’s parents had passed away a number of years earlier.  At just 14 years of age, he lived in his own apartment next door to his grandmother, and the two of them were barely making ends meet.

 

Josh was a bright, energetic young man with a great sense of humor. We shared an affinity for heavy-metal rock music. As grown up as his life appeared to be, I could tell he desperately needed someone he could talk to. I enjoyed being around him and did my best to be like a thoughtful big brother.  

We’d been buddying around for a few years, when I had an opportunity to travel overseas. Josh and I corresponded with each other intermittently while I was away, but when I returned, friends told me it would be a good idea to stay away from him. His grandmother had passed away, and he’d started living on the streets. Josh had become a junkie, addicted to heroin, and a thief. I was warned that I wouldn’t recognize him and that I shouldn’t give him my home or work address or phone number.

 

As I kept walking, trying to make sense of it all, something said, “Go back.”

 

Hearing this news broke my heart. I couldn’t help but feel as if I’d let Josh down in some way. I thought about him often.  

A year or so later, I was walking in the East Village with some friends, and we passed by a young man asking for change. Instantly, I recognized him. It was Josh.  

I’m unable to describe the anguish I felt—seeing someone with so much promise, someone I loved, on the streets, homeless, dirty, covered with sores, begging. As I kept walking, trying to make sense of it all, praying and listening for what I should do or how I should think, something said, “Go back.”

 

So I left my friends and doubled back to the corner where Josh was standing. I called out to him. He looked at me and smiled. In that moment I wasn’t impressed by his physical condition or our gritty surroundings. It was his smile that got me. In it I could see the real Josh—spiritual qualities of joy, intelligence, love. I realized right then that Josh’s God-given identity was perfectly intact.

 

We sat on the curb and talked for hours. And our reunion wasn’t full of guilt, pity, judgment, or blame—just love. I believe, in those moments, that God was informing us both of who we really were, innocent and reflecting the Divine.  

Two weeks later, I received a call from Josh, telling me that he’d met a wonderful girl. She too had been living on the streets but had decided it was time for her to go home to her family. She’d asked if Josh wanted to go with her, and he’d accepted.

 

I continued receiving progress reports from Josh before I left New York City.

 

That Christmas, Josh’s girlfriend called to thank me for being his friend. She told me that his whole life had turned around the day he saw me again on that street corner. She kept saying, “You changed his life.” But I knew what actually had changed Josh’s life was the Christ.

 

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness. . . . the divine image and likeness, dispelling the illusions of the senses; the Way, the Truth, and the Life, healing the sick and casting out evils, destroying sin, disease, and death.” I believe Josh had glimpsed the purity, love, and intelligence he reflects as the image and likeness of God. I believe this renewed view of himself, of who he was, changed him.

 

I continued receiving progress reports from Josh before I left New York City a number of years ago. He moved upstate, found meaningful work, and maintained his own apartment. For me, the greatest report was his renewed belief in himself and life.

Reflecting on that unexpected meeting with Josh, and the blessed Christmas news that followed, I learned that absolutely nothing can prevent us from waking up to our identity as children of God.

 

Expressing the Christ:

Science and Health:

332:9-15 Christ

King James Bible:

Luke 10:30-37 A