When I first met David, he didn’t seem extraordinary. He seemed average in many ways to the point where one hardly noticed him which, I was to learn later … was exactly the way he wanted it. He must have been 5-10, slim but wiry build, short brunet hair, clean shaven. His eyes caught my attention immediately; crystal blue and piercing is the best way I can describe them. And his hands. There was something about them but I can’t quite put my finger on what it was.
My name is Cameron Phillips, friends call me Cam. I had a room to let in my Upper West Side New York City apartment. When I wrote the advertisement, I emphasized no alcohol or pets, there would be a one thousand dollar deposit which would be returned at the end of one year with six percent interest, and references would be thoroughly checked. I wanted to avoid dealing with the unqualified.
My phone rang as the morning edition hit the streets. I assumed the caller had read the ad – that was a mistake. I made an appointment for a 9:30 a.m. meeting.
“I don’t have any.”
“I don’t have any references.”
“Your name is David, and you have no references.”
“That is correct.”
“Do you have the one thousand dollar deposit?”
“Just out of curiosity … did you by some remote chance actually read my advertisement for this room?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Did you see the part about the deposit and that references would be required?
“The ad didn’t say required for either the deposit or the references. All it said was, the references would be thoroughly checked.”
I grabbed the newspaper and double checked. “Ah, so it does. So, David, where do you come from?”
“A great distance from here.”
“Ah, a great distance. And what did you say your last name was?”
“That’s right, you didn’t.”
He was so serious and matter of fact, I could not resist continuing the interview.”
“Would you mind telling me your last name?”
“I don’t have one.”
“Ah, you don’t have one. Why am I not surprised?”
With a smile, he said nothing.
“No drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.”
He gave such a blank stare, I got the impression he didn’t know what I was talking about. “Never mind, David.”
The entire scenario struck me so funny, I began to laugh. David joined in the laughter after which I asked him when he would be able to move in.
“Right now, if that’s ok.”
“Yes, of course. Why not. Do you have any…”
“Yes, I left it just outside your front door.”
He retrieved his bag, moved in, and my life was about to change forever.
So, David, what do you do for a living?
“I’m sort of a social worker.”
“Yes, it is.”
“Are you married? Do you have a family?’
“Oh, no. I’m not married but I do have a very large family.”
I was so taken by this soul that I forgot to ask him if he was gainfully employed as a social worker.
I gave him a key to the apartment and hardly saw him after that first encounter. He was quiet to a fault, paid his rent on time, left early in the morning and came back to the apartment after dark. He didn’t listen to the radio or watch TV. And there was no reading material in his room. I must admit, my curiosity was piqued.
I was tempted to follow him but decided it wasn’t necessary when reports began coming in of his activities. And I’m not talking about over the back fence gossip. These were headlines in the newspaper with articles about this mysterious man who was doing all sorts of almost miraculous things.
David’s name was not mentioned but I began to suspect it was him. And then one day there was a photograph of a building that had been set afire from a gas leak, and there he was, holding a baby under his arm as he descended a fire escape ladder. The TV announcer praised this hero and wanted to know if anyone knew him as he vanished as soon as he put the baby in its mother’s arms.
When he returned to the apartment that evening he was so disheveled and dirty, I could not help but stare at him. He apologized for his appearance and disappeared into his room. But that was only the beginning.
The reports continued to come in with increasing frequency, and always the same conclusion – who was this mysterious man who seemed to be there at the precise moment he was needed and would then disappear without a trace?
He wasn’t faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive. Nor did he leap tall buildings in a single bound. He was just there when needed. And folks throughout the city fell in love with him. Somehow the nickname of Captain Love got started and went viral.
I had all I could do to keep quiet during our brief encounters. I began to understand how he got his nickname. There was a goodness about him I think I sensed right from the beginning. Why else would I have permitted him to ignore my newspaper ad requirements, and invite him into my life?
And then one afternoon I saw him. I was walking along 59th toward 6th Avenue. He was on the Park side of 59th talking animatedly with another fellow. They were laughing and seemed to know one another quite well. Finally, they embraced – held each other at arm’s length – and then parted, each going in a different direction. I stood there for a few seconds enjoying the moment. It’s seldom you see New Yorkers being so demonstrative. They usually hurry along, ignoring each other in an attempt to maintain some semblance of privacy.
Soon, these two men were out of sight and I went on my way. That evening, when David entered the apartment I was all smiles. He greeted me and stopped with an inquisitive look on his face. I could not resist, “David, I saw you this afternoon at the edge of Central Park. You seemed to be having such a good time with your friend, I’m embarrassed to say I stopped and watched.”
“That’s OK, Cam. That was Joseph, a brother of mine. He just arrived in town. We hadn’t seen each other for some time.”
“Please don’t hesitate to bring him along for a visit. I’m sure I would enjoy meeting him.”
David smiled, thanked me and went to his room. That was the last time I saw him. When I got up in the morning, I found a note on the kitchen counter along with cash for the next month’s rent. He wrote that his stay in New York had come to an end and he was going home. He thanked me for the privilege of staying in my home. I chuckled when I read that. ‘The privilege was all mine, David.’
My reaction was one of sudden loss. Then I began to realize, I was going to miss him. I wondered if everyone in his homeland was like him. How wonderful that would be. I mused, ‘You’ll always have a room in my home, David. I hope you come again.’
Every once in a while, someone steps through the veil separating us from those who have gone before us … returning for a moment to provide the love and assistance we are unable to find from those we live among.
It may come in the form of a look, a word, a smile, a touch or it may be nothing more than a presence which we may or may not be aware of. But in some way, it is felt and assists us on our way. And, in some instances, a great deal more is received than thought possible.
Those who shoulder the responsibility of returning to this plane may appear in any form in order to meet the need. The form may be that of another human being, either friendly or adversarial. It may even be in the form of an animal.
Our awareness may be as simple as standing at a crossroad, pondering which way to go – when a subtle nudge from within says, ‘Go this way, not that way’. Or it may be of a more dramatic nature … sometimes necessary to get our attention.
Every day, hundreds if not thousands of encounters such as these are experienced around our planet by caring souls, or angels, if you will. In some instances, we are blessed with the realization of who it is touching our lives.