Soldier in the Streets

Soldier in the Streets

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Experiencing Christ’s love for us all, is something we can encounter not just on Sundays at the Divine Liturgy, but anytime and anywhere, like this story from the streets of Boston.

“God already knows what will happen,” was the message we held as we headed out into the cold ocean-breeze of an early morning on Boston streets. The sun was warm and powerful, and at that point we realized it was the only heat we might experience and not from the people we would meet. We were given twenty dollars and told to meet back in three hours.

It seemed very natural the way we met Paul. He had no idea we came out that morning with the hopes of meeting someone like him, or better yet encountering God in someone like him. My two friends and I were cold and walking close together. Paul was huddled with his knees close to his chin on the stoop of a back door.

“Hey man, how’s it going?”

“Good, you?” And we all began very simply. Paul had shaggy grey and blond hair, grey stubbly cheeks, swollen eyes, a few teeth, and scribbly tattoos around his wrist. “Do you believe in Jesus?” He asked as I sat down on the stoop beside him.

“Yeah, of course, yes.” We all responded. “How about you?” Paul simply raised his stained left fingers to the building before him. Stretched out on the wall was a twenty by thirty foot sculpture of the Crucified Lord. I didn’t realize why he was sitting where he was, until I sat next to him.

“I’ve been coming here since the eighties.”

We offered to buy him some breakfast and come back. He asked for an Aleve. Paul was a veteran and was in a lot of pain. He showed us the scars from bullets and shrapnel in his legs. Even though he could walk, he said his legs were basically mush after he got thrown into a concrete wall after an explosion. We listened for a while and went to get him breakfast.

When he saw us coming back down the street he shouted, “You decided to come back, huh?”

When we got closer he was trying to disperse a pile of mucus with his old ragged Micheal Jordan sneaker that he must have coughed up while we were gone. The thing he was most interested in was the Aleve. He had me open them for him right away. I put the two little blue pills in his hand and he smiled. He took the pills with a swig of coffee and put the food to the side.

Paul told us many more stories of the war and life as an ex-pat. Many of his stories were a little scrambled and confusing but he made mention that he went to school for robotics. He also spoke a lot about some specific nerve in the back of the head that is affected by the war and how the government was always preforming surgeries on it. Anyway, we left him there with warmth and fond farewell as he began to ask for money which seemed like it was his way of letting us go.

May our Lord and savior Jesus Christ shine hope and light into the heart of men and women like Paul and may the horrors of war subside to peace through our supplications, Amen.

Photo and caption from: CreativeCommons.org via WikiCommons

 

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Dean Franck

Dean Franck is a first year student in the Master's of Divinity Program at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is also a participant of our Digital Disciples Program.