Saint John of the Mall wasn’t where I expected him to be. He had been by the coffee place. I thought it was his regular place. My friend Brenda knew him, after all.
But here he was, sitting in front of The Children’s Place. With his feet out. Where I could trip over them.
“They weren’t in your way,” he said. “You were so lost in thought that you almost stepped on me.”
I turned to Nancy, looking for support. She shook her head. “You were somewhere else,” she said. “It happens often so I’m used to it. But this time it got you into something.”
I turned back to John. “So are you sitting here because Christmas is about children?” I put just enough irony in my voice so no one listening would assume I was one of those holiday people.
John smiled at me. “I wouldn’t start Christmas with children. I’d start it with creativity, with the start of everything. Christmas isn’t just about babies, not even baby Jesus.”
I was pretty surprised.
He got up slowly and motioned Nancy and me to walk with him. He looked older than time, but he could still walk pretty well.
“Not that there wasn’t a baby Jesus. It’s just that the baby part wasn’t the most amazing part. It was the flesh part. Baby, child, teen, adult. All the stages, all the moods, all the parties, all the arguments, all the words.”
“So, shouldn’t you be down by the Body Shop?” I asked. I laughed.
“It’s closed,” he said. “And the baby part is important. But he put on a body and walked around. Jesus engaged in conversation walking with people.”
John looked up. We were by the maternity shop.
“I’ll leave you here,” he said. “My friends Matt and Luke like to tell baby stories as the starting point for Christmas. I’ll wait for them here.”