My apartment in the city was on the thirty-fourth floor of a forty-five-story building. From my bedroom window, I could see the steeple of a church opposite my building. I was literally across the street from a house of God and, at the time, the proximity of the church to my home seemed like yet another simple random coincidence. Was it a coincidence? Or was it happenstance and confirmation that I happened to be standing in the exact place and time that I was supposed to be there? I now believe the situation that led me to reside next to a church in Manhattan was not a coincidence, but a visual for me to take notice and a sign that God was close by.
After becoming positive, something had drawn me to visit the great cathedrals of Europe. I had visited Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. I traveled to Notre-Dame, Sacré Coeur and Sainte Chappelle in Paris, where I saw the Crown of Thorns. I visited Il Duomo in Milan and Florence, St. Mark’s in Venice, the Dom in Berlin, and St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, where I was amazed by this seat of the Roman Catholic Church that I always admired. I marveled at seeing a relic of Jesus’ crib at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. I prayed to God many times, in front of breathtaking gothic and baroque altars, over many years, in these and other churches—to keep me healthy. I was carrying the HIV virus and I had no idea how much longer my luck was going to last before I became ill. I thought that it couldn’t hurt to ask God to keep me safe, even though I had no relationship with him. Over twenty-seven years after contracting the virus, I’m healthy and here to tell you that God not only heard my prayers, he answered them.
Moving to New York when the city was unsettled seemed very much like a deliberate maneuver by Fate to envelop my existence in a volatile environment so I could see the world in a different light. I too was in a state of unrest and the military presence in the city would open my eyes to the harsh realities of the world that I never paid attention to before. I still had not begun to notice God, but my time in the city was monumental to my overall spiritual development. It wasn’t until I began to reflect upon my life and experiences that I realized God had been trying to build a relationship with me my entire life. Today, I see the financial pressures that I was facing – together with the potential hostile environment in the city – as lost opportunities to interface with God—and I have since come to believe that many of the coincidences in my life were in fact God reaching out to me. Each coincidence built upon the other, like floors in a high-rise. Each floor I’ve encountered leading me to a heightened awareness. I hope to eventually reach the ultimate floor where everyone wants to dwell—the penthouse in the building with the best views. It wasn’t until several years after living in New York that I would find myself reunited with BoBo, my long-forgotten childhood friend.