The guy on my street who prays.
Every week or so, I notice this guy on my street sitting on the curb between parked cars. Crossed-legged. Spine straight. Facing the same side of the street every time. White guy with a beard. He looks like a hipster carpenter or mechanic, with black geek glasses and army boots. He’s concentrating. Serious. He doesn’t seem “disturbed,” but I probably wouldn’t disturb him. I think, We all need to relax somehow…maybe he’s taking a break from whatever he’s building…or the voices in his head.
If my son and I walk past him and we’re yammering on — which we always are — we instinctively hush. Even my dog gives Lotus Curb Guy some space. He’s become our urban Buddha statue, reminding us to be still.
The other day I was hauling groceries up the sidewalk. Flip flops and carrots. And there he was, on the curb directly in front of my house. Since there was no car parked in front he had plenty of room, not sandwiched between bumpers as usual. And that’s when I got the whole picture….
This is where I need to mention that I live across the street from a big old Hungarian Church (which, by the way, is great Feng Shui — the Church part, not necessarily the Hungarian part. Though I’m sure Hungarians are good luck.)
I saw him get into position. He gets seated, straightens his back, bows his head, and…does The Sign of The Cross. All this time, I never noticed that he places himself in view of the church — to pray.
Because I’m a chronic metaphor maker, this brings up a dozen questions that I spin into ponderings for you and myself:
Does he not feel worthy to go into the church? What group do I not feel worthy of?
What is he praying for? Do I feel that I deserve what I want?
Maybe he’s mad. I can be out of my right mind — which is only good for the sake of comparison to sanity.
Maybe he’s enlightened. I have punctuations of pure illumination. I want more than mere moments of it — I want days on days of that Light. But then, would I float away?
Maybe he’s a slave to his beliefs. Note to self: Burn some beliefs.
Maybe he’s taking a break from whatever he’s building. Taking breaks makes for stronger building.
Maybe he’s busting a habit with distraction, got kicked out of the church, is an architect, a parent, a lost soul, Rumi reincarnated. Me too.
Maybe he’d appreciate it if I prayed for him. Let us pray.
I hope I see him tomorrow.