Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Downtown Preacher Man

I miss the man in front of Old Navy.

He'd been a fixture there for so long -- an old black man in a dark suit and hat, portable speakers and a microphone -- that my best friend, who lived here several years before I did, remembers him.

He preached. There may have been some Bible in there, I don't know, but mostly it was common-sense stuff.

"God doesn't want you to smoke," said his amplified voice to the insensible crowds swirling past him one evening as I walked to the train after work.

I used to marvel at his tenacity, his sense of purpose. His stamina. How did he keep talking? How did he find new things to say without benefit of response?

Lately I realized I haven't seen him. Perhaps he took off for the winter; perhaps the cold was too much for his old frame. Maybe with the warming months and longer days he'll return. I imagine him having breakfast, packing his equipment on his little trolley, and heading downtown to do God's work, propelled by purpose.

I used to try to catch his eye to give him a smile or nod (preach it), but he was not one to be wooed, focused as he was on sending and not receiving, putting out the message to the exclusion of all else, even love.

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