“And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”- Mark 9:36-37
As I stepped out of the apartment building, I caught a glimpse of our neighbor hugging a young boy. He was about eleven. There was something emotional about the embrace. He looked a little sad and she was trying to comfort him. He was too young to be her son and I have never seen him around before. I was pretty sure that he doesn’t live with her. Anyway, it was none of my business. I said my customary “hello” and “goodbye” and went on my way.
As soon as I stepped out of the building, I heard a soft voice calling out, “Mister, mister.” I assumed that it was for someone else and walked on. The “Mister” persisted until it was right next to me. I turned and saw it was the neighbor’s young relative.
“Do you live in apartment 5B? I live next door, well, at least until tomorrow, I am moving.” He didn’t wait for me to answer and immediately asked the next question; “Do you play the guitar late at night?”
I was a little embarrassed. I have a habit of practicing my guitar late at night. I thought the walls were thick enough to buffer the sound but apparently I was wrong.
“Did I keep you awake?” I asked. “I am sorry if I did.”
“No, that’s not what I meant.” He retorted. “Every night I lay in bed listening to your playing. I find it very comforting.” Then his face slightly turned red after saying this. Maybe he felt that he was revealing too much. He waited for me to say something. I wasn’t sure what to say. Finally, I asked if he played. He nodded affirmatively and said that he liked to play Brazilian rock. However, he liked the finger-picking style I played. He asked about it. I told him that it was a classical form. He went silent for a minute. Then he said that his name was Lucas but he was moving tomorrow. It was the second time he said this. He held out his hand and shook my hand. He smiled shyly and said goodbye and went on his way.
This boy seemed like an introvert and it must have taken a lot of courage on his part to approach me. He belongs to a generation of internet and Facebook, a world inundated with virtual friends and relationships but lacking in any real human contact. Every night he heard a real person making some noise on his guitar. I know where I am musically and I won’t say that it was great playing that kept him company. I believe that it was the human contact. Through music, he had contact with a real person but there was a wall separating us. Today he overcome this barrier and made the connection. As I made my way to the bus stop my mind was reeling over our simple interaction and lo and behold, he was there waiting for his bus. He did not see me and I wasn’t going to get his attention. I am kind of an introvert as well. I don’t really feel comfortable approaching strangers. Then, all the sudden, like before, I heard the voice again but this time, it was a question; “Where are you going?”
I told him that I was going to a bookshop. He automatically said that he was going for some extra lessons with a tutor. He asked what I did for work and I told him that I worked with homeless children. He kept quiet for a while. I could see that his mind was thinking. He wanted to say something but he wasn’t sure what was appropriate. I asked if my neighbor was his grandmother. He said no but did not elaborate. I did not pursue the subject. I don’t need him to unravel his complicated family background. Besides, it wouldn’t add anything to this encounter. Then, there was a silence between us but it wasn’t awkward. It was just silence. When my bus arrived, he shook my hand again. He smiled and I could see that he was happy that he made the connection with me. I was grateful for this opportunity.
There was a wall between us. The barrier would have separated us forever. He took the initiative to overcome the wall. Now, we had this moment together. He has seen my face and I know his name. Maybe there will be other moments like this and maybe we will never see each other again. After all, he is moving. No matter what happens we had this moment together and it will remain with me. Something mysterious happened in my soul. I cannot explain it. It reminds me of the beauty of Christmas; God overcoming barriers and making Himself known to us.