This is Jeffrey. We met this evening while out for a walk. The streets were very quiet but I still wore a mask and as I crossed an intersection I noticed Jeffrey standing there. As I passed he approached in a quiet voice asking if I could spare change for something to eat. I didn’t have cash to offer, I told him, but I could give him a McDonald’s gift card worth $5 (which someone had recently gifted me for the sole purpose to feed the homeless). His eye’s lit up and he said, “Thank you sir; God Bless you,” and began to approach. I backed away a little and told him I would be more comfortable leaving the card on a nearby post for him to retrieve as I walked away. He understood and when I walked away he picked it up, looked at it, and blessed me from afar. On my way back from my walk and crossing the same intersection he was still there. Our eye’s met and I asked if I could capture his image, to which he readily agreed (as an aside, I am finding that a positive twist to wearing masks is that you are more inclined to look directly in each other’s eyes). When I asked Jeffrey his name he told me then added, “but they also call me Black Jesus.” Why do they call you that, I questioned? “Because I’m here to save the world.” Jeffrey has been homeless for about a year he told me, but a friend is allowing him to sleep on her sofa for a while. After a few more questions, Jeffrey opened up and talked (and talked and talked) and I listened. He told me about his mental disability, about his homelessness, and his former addictions. Now, he added, he is “just trying to get by, but it is difficult.” I’m finding that one of the greatest gifts a person can give to another is to see them and listen to them. Often homeless are invisible to others. When I parted he went to shake my hand and out of instinct I almost did, but reminded him of social distancing. As I walked away he called to me again and said, “Peace be upon you.” I’ll be honest and say that it sorta gave me chills, this coming from someone who goes by the name Black Jesus.
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” —Hebrews 13:2