On the “Human Cube” and Other Walls, 2: Awakening

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

So I keep thinking about the mid-town vagabond I wrote about yesterday “posed” as it were, tight, in a kind of “human cube” shape (for lack of a better way to describe his appearance), ensconced absolutely still  on the step of an old building near the coffee shop and seemingly deep and far in his private world (if not just asleep–or worse) while all around him: life.

A few of the first eye-catching red- and rust-colored leaves of the season drifted, stopped.  Traffic, speckled with intermittent rain drops,  swooshed to the stop light. The Saturday morning people drifted in and out of shops chatting, laughing. An old man with a sweet dog offered stories to passers-by who would stop and listen. The subtle scent of summer’s detritus hung in the air.

And the silent figure sat, folded tight into himself, deep and far in his own world. At least it seemed to me…

Maybe it was the contrast between the busy locale and him that made me stop and lean in a little–but just a little–when I sensed, of a sudden, maybe this was one of the occasions somebody needs a little intervention. A prayer, perhaps. Which is what I offered. Not that he could know. (But even if he was just asleep, as I wrote previously, a prayer never hurts.)

I also hoped he’d soon come back from his interior world or his dreams or his stupor, but I mean really come back, and not just to “the blinding, bright rooms of his eyes,” which is a line from one of my favorite Ted Kooser poems that goes like this:

My cat is asleep on his haunches

like a sphinx.He has gone down cautiously

into an earlier life, holding a thread

of the old world’s noises, and feeling his way

through the bones. The scratch of my pen

keeps the thread taut. When I finish

the poem, and the sound in the room goes slack,

the cat will come scampering back

into the blinding, bright rooms of his eyes.*

I hoped the young person on the step (for he also appeared young) would not just open his eyes to another Saturday morning in October in the city, but that he would open  his heart to another Light altogether, a reality leading down another road, if you will. I mean, he just struck me, if momentarily, as needing that.  But who knows?

Actually, “Who” does know…

Maybe the Holy Spirit that prompts us to intersect with and then intercede for someone in need, if just for a few seconds, has had His eye–and His heart–on that one on the stair step. Someday when the records are reviewed up yon perhaps it will make more sense…

In the meantime, as I ponder, I also think of everyone and anyone lost in some private world (if not just sleeping) of their own, needing to “come back to reality,” whether reality is blinding, painful, reassuring, or just the business of the day. But that is where the life is. I know how I myself can drift.

And, most fortunately, there is One “keeping the thread taught,” as it were, on us if we allow Him, even if we are as yet unaware of Him at the other end, pulling us back from whatever distant place we may drift in mind or heart even as He leans in to our walled-off places, cube-shaped, maybe; maybe even self-imposed. Or perhaps places walled off by less subtle circumstances, events, and/or people.

And who knows?

In the way God nudges believers to intercede, maybe somebody will walk by us just then, feel a bit of a heart tug, and pray a little bit for us before moving on. True, most prayers tend to stem from the roar of an approaching fire, flood, or earthquake, but they can also come in the form of a still, small voice: Pssst…that one…over there…

Actually, Who does know…


*Kooser, Ted. “Sleeping Cat”. Sure Signs. University of Pittsburgh Press. 1980. 50.


This entry was posted in Bible/literary themes, Bible/literary themes, elements, Devotionals, encouragement in hard times, most recent posts and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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