Concrete Moses

January 22, 2012


Yesterday, I watched a man walking the sidewalk outside the courthouse. He was draped in white from shoulders to sandaled feet and was apparently dispossessed of a coat to protect him from the biting January winds that whipped through the caverns of tall, city buildings that surrounded him. A modest length of golden tinsel, probably the treasured result of rummaged trashcans and dumpsters, encircled his head like a crown. He carried a wooden staff in his right hand that he held out before him like Moses parting the sea of people elbowing their way to other places; they were people who knew things, busy people with agendas who dressed in suits and designer clothes, who scurried into buildings, who carried briefcases in and out of meetings and who frequently glanced down at their watches in the middle of conversations. He was not one of them. No.

I stood secure inside the warmth of the building and watched him as he almost glided upon the concrete, wingless and smiling. For some reason still unknown to me, I knocked on the window to get his attention. He paused and turned toward me, then in a graceful and kingly gesture, raised his staff in recognition of my presence. We smiled at each other, and then he slowly turned from me to continue his endless journey among the city streets. This was his kingdom. He owned it; it didn’t own him. He owned it because he asked nothing from it and needed nothing from it. Then, separated only by the plate glass windows that ran the length of the façade, I walked with him down the street until I couldn’t any more.  An overwhelming sadness overtook me as he disappeared from view. I wanted to run to him and ask him why he didn’t appear cold, although the Fahrenheit approached freezing.  I wanted to ask him if he’d ever been in love or had children. I wanted to know where he got his meals and what he thought about when he woke each morning. I wanted to ask him if he still had unfulfilled dreams tucked warmly into the corners of his heart, like me.

I didn’t.

Instead, I pushed the button on the wall and waited for the elevator bell to signal its arrival on the ground floor where I stood sipping my Starbucks. Once inside, I pushed the button for the third floor where the people who know things work; busy people with agendas who wear suits and designer clothes, people who carry briefcases in and out of meetings and who frequently glance down at their watches in the middle of conversations…

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