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Sunday, December 15, 2019

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Last week, I decided to work a little late and then walk home to unwind and get some exercise. As I left work and headed home on foot, I realized that it had gotten dark early in these Winter months. I had second thoughts for a moment, but quickly put any concerns of safety aside, and journeyed forward down the gritty streets. 

I headed past homeless encampments and shadowy figures in an area of town where a man had just gotten mobbed, robbed and beaten up by four other people, ending up in the hospital, a little over a week ago. I heightened my senses and became very aware of everyone and everything around me as I walked along the dirty sidewalk strewn with debris.

I passed a motley crew of people sitting on stairs as I turned a corner. A young woman, kneeling down, turned to see me as I came upon them, smiled and said, "Hi!" I smiled back and said, "Aloha!" as I continued on. 

I let out my breath as I had passed that corner many times before in the approaching darkness. Usually addicts strewn about amidst clothes and other belongings, some probably stolen, scattered about the stairs. 

As I walked, I saw another dark figure approaching me. A pretty large man. As we passed, I looked him in the face, and when he made eye contact, I smiled and said, "Aloha!" He nodded to me. I continued on, as I braced myself, expecting to get hit on the head from behind. It didn't happen. So I continued walking.

A little while later, I approached a tent on the sidewalk and a man came out and stood outside watching me approach. It was dark so I couldn't really see features. When I came upon him, I looked at him and he looked at me. I smiled and said, "Aloha!" He smiled and said, "Howzit..." and I continued on. Again I braced myself to get hit on the back of the head but it didn't happen.

This scenario repeated itself many, many times. Such was my journey home that night until I made it to a more populated and lighted part of downtown Honolulu. 

I passed person after person for the next half an hour, always looking to make eye-contact. Always smiling my biggest smile. Always saying, "Aloha!"

I briefly stopped by the Honolulu City Hall Christmas display and quickly looked around at the decorations and elaborate displays. Continuing on, I kept to the sidewalk and didn't wander off into the grassy areas where other displays were. 

I couldn't help notice however that far away from the main displays and sidewalk, I could see what looked like a little manger scene with the words "Jesus Christ" lit up in lights. It looked like a small modest display from my vantage point. 

I though it was ironic that the "reason for the season" was relegated to such a tangential area.

Continuing on, I looked towards my right at the large historic church and in giant lights, it read, "Jesus is Aloha", and that resonated deeply with me from another revelation I had several years prior. I continued walking, smiling and saying "Aloha" to passerby's and security guards monitoring the crowds.

It was then, as I entered a stretch of sidewalk that was mostly empty of people, that I saw a man in the dimmed streetlight. He was facing the street with both hands held up, talking away to some unseen companion. A group of people ahead of me made a wide arc around him as they passed.

As I got closer, I could discern who he was. It was the man whom I had briefly met about a month ago who was sweeping the street with a short broken broom. I had praised him and thanked him at that time for keeping the street around him clean, amidst his belongings surrounding him. He seemed truly grateful and we exchanged good wishes and even a parting, "Love you brother" to each other, in the brief but memorable encounter.

I walked behind and past him as he continued speaking out loud with arms outstretched, to unseen entities.

That is something I was familiar with as I wholly believe that street people who talk aloud to themselves, are not always really talking to just themselves, but often to unseen people, beings and presences around them. At least that is how I have always viewed it.

Not wanting to disturb him, but also not wanting to just walk past him and rudely not acknowledge him, in case he recognized me from our last encounter, I said loudly, "Aloha brother!" as I continued to walk. 

It was then that his talking abruptly stopped. I slowed down slightly, and then heard him exclaim, "I'm sorry brother, what did you say?

I stopped in my tracks and turned to look back at him. He said, "What was that word you said?"

I started walking back towards him, as he stood there, surrounded by little crates and boxes, and a shopping cart full of life's necessities. He looked at me, intently, with his head slightly tilted, as if he had a great anticipation and expectation for my answer.

I smiled, and said, "Aloha! That is the word I said."

Now right next to him, he looked me in the eyes and asked, "What does that word mean?"

I was able to get a better look at his features in the streetlight. He was a black man who looked like he was in his sixties and who had been through a very hard life. His eyes spoke volumes.

I said, "Aloha is a Hawaiian word. It means hello, goodbye and it means love."

"What kind of Love?" he genuinely asked as he looked at me.

I said, "Like God's Love. Unconditional."

He looked down, put his hand on his chin, and nodded his head up and down as if he was simultaneously digesting, and concurring, with my definition of Aloha. "I see...unconditional Love, yes." he added.

I said, "How have you been? Are you doing alright? I remember you when you were sweeping the sidewalk that day."

"Oh yes... I remember too." he said. 

I quickly thought about my wallet and if I had any money in it. I didn't want to pull it out, but strained to think if I had any money in it from the day's events.

My distracted thoughts were quickly interrupted when he asked me, "Do you go to church?"

I sheepishly answered, "No not really..." and before I could add in that my church it outside and not contained by walls, he quickly followed up with "Do you read the Bible?"

Again, sheepishly, I answered "sometimes.." and then slightly panicked when he followed up with "What are your favorite Chapters?"

Not knowing what to say in the moment, I said, "Uhm...Genesis. You know Creation and all that." In all Honesty, I wasn't even buying my own answer. Then I said, "I like the New Testament. I like reading about Christ."

"I see..." he said.

Well, I do consider Christ my Greatest Teacher, but I connect with Him more through Spirit teachings rather than the printed word. If you believe that excuse.

The man smiled and then said, "You know we need to Love and be kind to everyone we meet. Not all Angels have wings." 

I smiled and said, "I agree wholeheartedly with you brother."

He then said, "It gets really hard out on the streets at times..." as he stared off into the distance, at some unknown horrid memory, I was sure, and as his eyes seemed to glisten. 

"I can only imagine brother" I lamented.

"Let me share something with you" he said. "I can't share everything, but this I can share with you, because I like your definition of Love. Sometimes I go through such hard times but I am grateful for the lessons in the suffering."

My arms lit up with chicken skin, as I had thought about the same lessons, and had been intending to write up and share another story about the lessons in suffering, and the gratitude for hard times in my Life.

I just hadn't been inspired to write up that saga yet, however one part of it dealt with having to walk home because our car picked up a bolt in the tire and I didn't want my wife driving to pick me up with the tire condition.

Thus I walked home that night, and who did I meet, but this man sweeping the sidewalk. He was such a Blessing that night that lifted my Spirits. Some other events happened because of that bolt in the tire which made what most people would characterize as "bad luck" into something of a powerful Blessing. I will share that story at another time however.

Now here was the same man sharing with me that same idea that "suffering" can be a "blessing" and he was the man in my story with the same message.

The man then walked over to his belongings on the ground and dug around  in one of his bags, emerging with what looked like a well-worn, somewhat tattered Bible with a missing cover.

I immediately thought of my encounter years earlier with Charlie, while walking to work one morning, in a story I shared years ago about him being surrounded by an explosion of papers, possessions and other small things, strewn about his feet in a ten-foot radius, as he stood there, shaking and crying, and coming down off of some bad drug trip. 

He begged me to stay with him so he could clean up his mess, and I helped him clean up, and eventually he dug out a torn Bible and read me a passage that had great meaning ultimately. We became friends after that and our encounters were always Powerful Blessings full of Lessons for me.

Now it was deja vu as the tattered Bible emerged once again.

The man asked me to come with him as we both walked up towards the furniture store so he could read the words on the paper as it was too dark where we once stood. We both huddled next to each other, him flipping through pages, and me trying to see what sections he was on so I could remember the lessons.

As he looked at his Book, he stopped on a section and I strained to see it in the dim light. "Christ. The Son..." he said.

He then flipped the pages before I could focus and see where he was reading from. I moved a little closer to him so I could see better, disappointed that I might not connect with the origin of his words fast enough.

Here we are, he said, "Hebrews 13" as he moved the Book closer to his face, straining to read.

In my mind, I said, "Hebrews 13, Hebrews 13..." over and over again trying to memorize the title as I knew I wouldn't be able to remember whole passages.

He began reading, " Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering..."

Emotions quickly welled up from within and tears began streaming down my face at his words. I tried to suppress them and surreptitiously wipe them away. I noticed a few people walking past us n the darkened sidewalk, looking over at these two silhouetted figures huddled next to each other, against the backdrop of a lighted store, straining to discern the words in a book.

I squeezed my eyes closed tightly and opened them widely, several times in a row, to try and squeegee the tears out of them without having to lift my sleeve up to my face to wipe them in an obvious move.

"You know you can't tell when a stranger is an Angel without Wings. That's how I kind of feel about you." he said.

I felt another wave of emotions welling up quickly as tears flooded my eyes. He continued to flip through his tattered Book. Reading bits and pieces, here and there, while I quietly observed him.

I knew that I was human. A mortal. Nothing close to an Angel. But now I questioned whether I was in the presence of a man who had suffered much in his Life, or was I in the presence of something Divine and Holy. 

My Heart continued to race at the mere thought of the possibility as my mind flashed back to a Life changing encounter almost two decades ago with a little runaway boy named LeRoy.

A boy who left such a powerful impression on me, that almost twenty years later, I still erupt in tears when telling the story of that rainy night. Convinced in hindsight, he was an Angel. Or even Christ Himself. Here I was yet again trying to discern this encounter on the fly as I watched this man intently.

He looked up from his Bible, and stared off into the distance again. He said, "You know, I can't share everything with you. But I trust you. I can share...there are some things I have been through..."

"I understand brother..." I replied, adding, "I am very grateful for what you have shared with me already...truly..."

He then spoke about some of his Life. Things that I need to just hold in confidence and trust here. He talked about hardships again, and how he is grateful for the hard times. It was a powerful affirming moment again in my own revelations on my own Spiritual Journey.

The first time I saw him, he was sweeping the sidewalk and I felt like he was sweeping away his past. To an extent, I was right.

I then asked him, "How long have you been here in Hawai'i?"

"Four years...almost five" he answered, adding, "I am very happy that I came here."

I said, "I am very happy you came here brother."

We stood there in a moment of silence. No cars driving down a once busy street in an unusual break. The wind was quiet in the canopied trees. As if the Universe suddenly hushed Itself to listen in.

He glanced up at me, with teary eyes, and gently smiled, then looked down at the ground. He softly said, "Thank you..."

"You are welcome brother. I really mean it.." I replied.

Quietly, he asked, "Can I share something with you? Something I don't share with people..."

"Yes... Always..." I responded.

He looked up at me and said, "Sometimes Jesus speaks to me..."

"I believe you brother. He is a constant Companion of mine. I understand you." I said.

"It is hard to explain. It is like I can go downtown to Chinatown", he said, as he looked up and pointed off into the distance at the tall buildings of Honolulu looming so far away. "I can go down King Street. I can go down Beretania Street. I can go down Hotel Street. There are many ways to get there."

I said, "Yes...many different paths in Life."

"Yes" he said, but it is Christ who tells me which way to go, so I will be safe. Which path to take each day and night."

"That is Beautiful brother..." I replied.

It was at that moment, I stuck out my hand and he looked at it, and extended his arm and hand. He grasped my hand. I said, "My name is Kai. What is yours?"

"John" he replied.

For some reason, I immediately thought of John the Baptist.

I said "Nice to meet you brother John" to which he responded with "Nice to meet you brother Kai."

I thanked him for the nice time together and he turned and started to walk away towards his belongings on the curb. I said, "John! Wait!" as he turned to look at me. I pulled my wallet out and fumbled through it, apologizing that I didn't have more, and pulled out my bills and held them out to him. "Please get something to eat and drink."

He hesitated momentarily, then reached out and took them. "I am kind of thirsty. May your Blessing tonight return to you 100-fold" he said.

I chuckled and said, "You are too kind brother John" as he smiled as well.

"I will be sure to check up on you anytime I pass through this area or when I see you John." I said to which he replied, "You are very kind."

I resumed my Journey home and looked back one last time and blurted out, "Love you brother John. You stay safe. I will see you again."

"Love you too brother Kai. You stay safe too..." he replied.

I walked my path home. Smiling and greeting every passerby. Whether they were receptive or not. I waved to bicyclists in the bike lane. I smiled and waved at cars who let me cross the crosswalk or who otherwise accommodated my street crossings.

And it was then that a light rain fell. The cold tinkling droplets, a smattering that was pure enough to feel the coolness yet not heavy enough to soak my clothes. 

It was an affirming rain. It was a cleansing rain. It was a Blessing rain. As I reflected upon my encounter with John. 

It was then that I thought about Ka Wai Ola a Kāne. The Life Giving Waters of Kane. The Power of Words. The water vapor in our Breath. The Power of our Words on Others. Our Bodies of Water and the effect of Love and Kindness on the Crystalline Structures of Water. Our Water. Us as Water.

Then I thought of the ʻŌlelo No'eau, the Wise Saying, "He huewai ola ke kanaka na Kāne. People are Kāne’s living water gourd."

And I thought of my Beautiful New Friend, John, as the Waters fell down upon me from the Heavens.

And I thought of John 4 in the Bible. Where Christ, parched, asked for water from the well.

And what it means to be kind to strangers. To quench their thirst.

For Christ is the Water of Life. And as He said, "but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'"

Thank you brother John. For the Love. For the Lessons. For being my Angel. In the Beautiful and Poignant Reminder of The Reason for the Season....

Aloha Kekahi i Kekahi...
Love One Another...
As I So Love You...

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