Jesus of Newbury Street
It was the sweat that we noticed, the soaked tee shirt. It wasn't the long, strawberry colored hair. It was sweat, so much more than that day called for. Together, we walked right past him and at the very same time, we stopped in our tracks. Our eyes met and without a word, our direction reversed, as if we were on a conveyor belt. Had it not, we would have missed the opportunity.
He was standing in front of one of those trendy shops on Newbury Street. I want to say it was one of those places that sell overpriced housewares to upwardly-mobile newly proclaimed MBA’s. Boston’s Back Bay. Not a likely location for our man. He was tall, thin, probably around thirty years old, more or less. It was hard to tell, with his gaze locked downward. He was hard at work, totally engrossed in what he was trying to accomplish. He wore a faded tee shirt, now two-toned, the center darkened from the moisture as it clung to his lean chest. He was fair-skinned, making him all the more vulnerable to the noon day sun. As we cautiously approached him, we realized that he was trying to fasten both ends of a fanny pack around his waist, a task normally accomplished in one or maybe two seconds, one so easy a child could perform it. Side A to Side B. A simple chore that an adult with what I surmised was a neuro-muscular disorder, would find difficult, sweat-provoking, anything but easily accomplished in crippled hands. His frustration was apparent and instantly heart-breaking.
My daughter quietly asked if she may touch the straps and assist him. In return, an assent, “Yes, please “and In one or maybe two seconds, both ends easily met and the mission that had been so daunting earlier was brought to completion. As he reassumed his upright position a tall man stood before us. A handsome face, beads of perspiration still glistening on his forehead, blue eyes that pierced us with precision caused us to step back. He thanked us, humbly, with barely a whisper and we resumed our walk. Once more, mother-daughter eyes met. I spoke first. “Sara, I believe we just met Jesus”. She nodded and we continued silently on our way into our futures, each of us knowing that one day we would be recounting this story, describing the most unforgettable person either of us had met.