On my way to work yesterday morning, I got on the crowded MAX train to go from Portland State University to Pioneer Square, a short five-minute ride. When I sat down, a silver-haired black woman carrying a couple shopping bags approached me and asked if I would like to buy a Halloween basket. She was short and stout, leaning side to side with each labored step, and wore an enormous thick red wool coat. As I always do with people downtown who ask me for money, I politely said, “no, sorry.”
“Are you sure? It comes with a blessing,” she asked.
“How much is it?”
“How much do you have?” she responded.
“I have five dollars, but I don’t want the basket. I just want the blessing.”
We had a deal. She said, “Stand up.”
We both stood up and she reached high and firmly placed her hand on top of my head. She closed her eyes, and I did, too. “Almighty Lord, bless this woman, protect her, and be with her in times of trouble. Give her a thankful heart so that she may go forth and do Your work. Lord, look upon her family and loved ones and bless and protect them, too. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
I said, “Amen.” I am not religious. But there are some things I believe in, and one of them is receiving a blessing when Sister Beverly offers it.