A river of energy flows through Mid-town Manhattan, a veritable Class-5 rapids of elite shopping and upscale destinations. From The Plaza and Central Park issues a cascade of luxury; Versace, Ferragamo, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels down fabled Fifth Avenue. Discerning shoppers come to test their skills in landing the big purchase. But there amidst the glitter is another fisherman, plying his trade.
Pastor Peter, as he calls himself, threads the van down the same street looking for a vastly different target. He looks for the huddled and the broken; the disenfranchised and the down and out. "They are transitory," he explains as we troll, "the homeless can't stay in one place for too long because it can be dangerous for them. But I know where to look... we'll find them."
And there, in the side eddy's of the river called New York, forgotten by the famous and bypassed by businessman, are the derelicts of our society. Here on a church stoop, there in a public atrium, this is where Peter the fisherman looks for and finds his catch. "Could we give you a blanket sir? And a sandwich? My name is Pastor Peter, and I'm here to tell you that Jesus loves you."
Cardboard condominiums house migrants, strangely consumer-like in their preferences. "I need a 36 x 30 jeans, those 38's are too big," one man informs. No matter; the need is met with a smile and Pastor Peter, like the clerk in the Armani store within a stone's throw, enobles the man by honoring his request. A hug, a joke shared with "Ray Charles" on his way to Atlanta, massive glasses hiding sad eyes and old pain, form the conversation on this fishing trip. Two old women in a shelter, safe for the night but shattered by life and left shells of what selves they once knew... these are the sights that will haunt.
The New York many know, with it's pulsing rhythm and spinning lights, flows on long into the night. But the swirling pools deep with human pain linger on for me; reminders that the sites I thought I knew, held a deeper truth that belie the wealth on display. Etched now forever in my mind was "Able" asleep under the phones in Port Authority, so far from living his name as if to seem a joke...an obscene joke. Able...now with a blanket. And a prayer.
And Peter the fisherman, showing eager students the good fishing holes, continues as he has for 25 years now, convinced that Able can, and Able will, rise.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. Matthew 4:18-20