Just being born, the night felt fresh. I stopped walking down the colorful, lively street in downtown Minneapolis. That's when he approached me. A black man, wearing two neclaces with crosses, short dreadlocked hair and a chilled outpersonality. I judged, and he seemed like he enjoyed a good puff. "Hey man, is that Sigma Beta... Chi?"
"Nah dude, it's Sigma Beta Rho, my fraternity in Seattle."
"Ok cool mayne. I'm finna go back and get mah education, working hard man. I love dem fraternities. Want to join them Alphas," he said.
"They're sickkk man. That's great that you're working hard and headed back man, sick to hear bro."
"Yeah man, been clean bout 9 months now. Gotta get off these streets and stay on my path. Not even from around here." He waved at the high-rises and hotels. "Originally from daan in Jamaica."
My face lit up. "That's sickkk man! What do you think of the area?"
He told me more about the city and about his life. We walked. I asked his plans, he said he's just looking for a fare to go home. Came downtown to watch the Veteran's Parade. Can't just sit around at home all day, gotta get out and do something, he said. I like this guy more and more.
I offered to get his tab, we just needed to find an ATM. As special encounters go, we began talking about his recovery and God's grace.
"Yah man, it's all cuz of His hand that I got off of it, I'm blessed."
I loved where the discussion headed. "For sureeee dude, I'm so happy to hear you've been working hard at it and are working harder each day." That moment needed contact, and the hand-slap to shake felt just right.
We talked more about God, he asked about my beard. Of course, anytime someone asks about my beard or turban, I light up like a kid who just found out school is cancelled due to the snow. My eyes sparkled.
I told him about who we are, about how we're different from Muslims or Hindus (he hadn't heard of Sikhs, which doesn't bother me. I love that he asked about it). I told him a bit about our philosophy.
"It comes down to a few things. One is the defnition of God, and the second is the goal of human life". I felt him tense up, as anyone might when expecting to hear another 'My religion is the best, you're going to Hell if you don't follow what I tell you to do' speech. "We define God as that same force or entity that everyone endures to realize. It's all of our collected goal to reach God. Kind of how you might call the same dude dad, or..."
"Father..." He chimed in. I smiled inwardly, glad we were on the same page.
"Yeah! Father, daddy, uncle etc. The same way, we have different names for the same Being, calling it Allah, God, Waheguru, Krishna. It's all the same."
"You see bro, I'm feeling that, y'nah mean? I consider myself a seeker. I read the Quran, the Bible, different books and I been realizin' that they all sayin' the same thing pretty much. We're believing in the same guy. It's how we got Jesus, or Buddha."
"Dude, I love that you've been exploring, and agree 100%," I said.
He continued "But man, you know what I don't understand? When I'm talking to these Christian people and they be telling me that that's the only way, that I gotta believe in Jesus or else something's going to go down. Man I can't take all that. That's cool for them, but my thing is different."
"Yeah, kind of how there are different ways to study for the same test, or different ways to ride a bike," I suggested.
"Exactly man. I gotta check me out this... Shiek?"
"Nah, S-i-k-h," I smiled.
"Yeah, Sikh thing. Sounds cool man."
I gave him the Sikhnet.com website, and named out Japji Sahib, Jaap Sahib, Tav Prasad, Chaupai, Anand Sahib, Rehras and Sohila for him to look up on Youtube. I suggested he read the translations. He seemed excited about it, and we exchanged numbers.
"My name's *********, but I go by Pink. It's Jamaican for 'Noble Warrior'."
"That's. So. Sick."
At this point I secured some money for his fare. We wlked outside, talking more in depth about his past, about God's grace.
"Man, you see I been just trying to stay clean, stay on a mission. If I feel the vibe, if I feel I need to or want to talk to someone, I do, liek I talked to you about your shirt homie."
"Yeah, I feel you, that's true." A calmness descended upon me. My head cleared out, feeling cool and serene. The feeling spread throughout my head and downmy spine, spreading to my entire body as goosebumps. No one else existed except the two of us on that sidewalk.
"When I feel uncomfortable, I just leave the person. My homies be telling me 'Hey man get over here, check this shit out.' I just tell them I'm on a mission and continue on. I changed a lot. My friends and everyone ain't liking it. They wantin me to stay the same, to be my old self. I like this person I am, who I become. They ask if I left em, I just tell em yeah. One of my homies was tryin to get me to try some stuff with him, I said nah. I told him I had something to tell him, to help him. He said he didn't want to hear it. He asked me later what I wanted to tell him, and I said 'nah man, I was finna tell you right then and there. You needed to hear it then man. Now's not the time no more.' I just say whatever God wants me to say. I'm no body to say anything, God just directs me. It's all by God's hand that I say or do anything."
Tears welled up in my eyes. My lower lip began to quiver. The goosebumps came back intensely. Here I was telling this brother about Sikhi, and he's so much of a better Sikh than I am. Then I realized that I had been blessed to meet him, to be in his presence.
"It's like, I'm on a path now, and ain't no body gonna get me off of it. I gotta be there for my kids man. I got 7 kids. I need to be telling them the good word."
"Yeah brother, like setting a good example. I love that you're working so hard to act and use the blessings you've got." At this point it became harder to hold back the tears. All I could do was listen as I felt the love and peace spread deeper and deeper. It felt so full.
"Man, it all comes back to my kids. I'm definitely finna check out the website and read up more up on this thing. Hey man, she needs a cab!" A taxi cab driver leaned against his car, looking and listening to us. A black woman with a walker had been calling to him from across the street at the hotel drive area for a minute. After Pink called him out, the driver took a quick look back, stomped out his cigarette and rushed in his car to get to her.
"Dude, I love that you helped her out like that. I remember reading an article about seva, basically selfless service. Every religion focuses on charity which is great. The Sikh philosophy mentions that we're all blessed, that you're blessed and I am, and the service is just us sharing the blessings with each other. That way no person has to feel low for recieving what's shared," I offered.
"For real brother. We gotta share our blessings with each other. I've been blessed by God so much, I just try to help other people as much as I can. I have to do that. If we didn't share our blessings, where would we be?"
We continued talking for a bit, then parted ways. Promises to keep in touch made. I felt calmness, love and happines seep into the night and the surroundings. I noticed a spider-web on one of those four-light street lamps, the kind of low ones. The night lived perfectly.