“Hey you! You’re scaring away all my customers. There’s a shelter two blocks over on Bleeker. They should be able to take you in for the night and give you a hot meal.”
Dennis got up and steadied himself for a minute. The day’s ration of second-hand burgers and booze from the garbage had left him with nothing more than a faint buzz and unsteady gait. He stumbled his way down Lexington past the shoppers and the carolers to see if the shelter would take pity on him one more time; it was Christmas Eve, after all. At least that’s what he’d heard one of the shoppers say as they complained about how all the stores were out of everything on his kid’s Christmas list.
“Sorry Dennis, we’re all full up,” explained the night manager of the shelter. “I told you before, you have to make sure you’re here by noon or you forfeit your bed.”
Dennis didn’t respond. He pulled his dirty blanket up over his slumped shoulders trying to block the sleet from pelting the back of his neck and continued walking towards downtown. The city appeared colder somehow in the glare of the Christmas lights and displays. As daylight gave way to darkness, the streets became quickly deserted, as if everyone was fleeing a showdown.
Dennis sat down on the steps of the Canal Street Subway station to rest. He watched as the near vacant 4 train departed with no additional passengers. Tears pooled in the corners of his eyes as he watched the end of the train disappear into the dark tunnel.
“God, are you really there? I really don’t think you are, but if you are, I need your help. If I just had enough money to buy one subway token, I would use it to jump in front of the next train and put everyone out of their misery.”
Dennis looked up from his prayer as he heard the next train approaching. He got up to get out of the way of the commuters, but then noticed only one person getting off the train and walking in his direction. It was Rick from the drug store.
“Can you spare change for a token?” Dennis begged. Rick looked over and recognized the beggar. He kept walking but then hesitated.
“Hey, weren’t you the guy asleep in front of my store earlier today? Didn’t you go to the shelter?” Rick asked loudly, as the train left the station.
“Yes sir, I went to the shelter but there was no room,” Dennis explained.
Rick tried to find a good reason to move on, but couldn’t. The two of them stood there in the silence of the subway station that Christmas Eve. It was a holy moment.
What would you do in this holy moment? Have you had a holy moment like this during the Christmas season?