Grateful For
The Black Cloak
From Nowhere


Sheldon F. Katz

Most of my weekends are filled with catching up activities – straightening out the clutter that gathers in the apartment during the working days, doing the daily exercise routine I neglect to follow, and finding a couple of hours to meet with friends. However, I do save every Sunday afternoon to drop by my favorite coffee shop to enjoy a bagel and lox with strong, black coffee, while reading the Sunday papers. I even indulge in a second or third cup to try to finish the crossword and other puzzles. Maybe it’s not really exciting, but it does provide me with a relaxing moment before the start of a new week.

Well, yes, I do make additional visits, when I have time, to read some particular reports or articles or to write long, overdue letters to friends and relatives. Yes, in this day and age, I still prefer, in most instances, snail mail to email. Those visits are somewhat extra special, as I consume not only my black coffee, but also a forbidden muffin (don’t tell my doctor, because she has me on a strict no sugar regime).

One time, on a sun-filled spring day, I made one of those extra special trips to the coffee shop. I needed to put together a proper conclusion to a proposal, in order to meet a deadline set by the sponsoring organization. I had no doubt I could concentrate better there than at my apartment. Unfortunately, the brain refused to function in full gear that day, and as a result, I left the coffee shop, still engrossed with an unfinished conclusion. Thus, when the door closed behind me, I failed to negotiate the steps. Result? I tripped and fell very hard on my hands and right knee.

In pain and momentarily dazed, I became vaguely aware of several passersby who never stopped to check on my condition. After a few moments, and a bit groggy, I looked up to see a black cloak, seemingly out of nowhere, floating towards me. From under that black cloak, a hand came out to clutch my arm and to help pull me to my feet. That accomplished, another hand appeared to feel my forehead to see if I had a fever. Luckily, no fever. At that point, a figure emerged from under the cloak. It told me to roll up the right pant leg to determine if the knee was damaged. A nasty bruise, but no blood. After that, this figure wanted me to flex and bend my knee, which I did, confirming I could stand and walk. Slowly, the figure blossomed out to become a nun, who asked me, “Do you have a car to get back home?”

I replied, “No. No problem. I’ll walk or take a taxi.”

This nun, again firmly taking me by my arm, said, “Come with me. I’ll drive you home.” She would not listen to any protests; rather, she led me directly to her car and opened the door to the back seat.

I noticed another nun sitting in the passenger side of the car. This nun quickly exited the car and came around to where I stood. Both nuns assisted me in getting into the back seat and buckling me in. It was this second nun who made the introductions.

After giving her name, she nodded to the nun who had helped me stand up and said simply, “This is Sister Ann.” I gave Sister Ann my name and told her how happy I was to meet her, and thanked both sisters so very much for helping me.

When we arrived at my residence, Sister Ann insisted on walking with me to door to make certain I would get there safely. Again, I thanked her, and told her, “You know, with your thoughtful and kind action you just did a good deed for a Jewish boy.” We both laughed. As Sister Ann started to leave, she turned and gave me her blessings and said she would keep me in her prayers. I made the same offering for her. With that, she left. Sometime later, I realized Sister Ann probably saved my life. Without her help, and still in a dazed and confused state of mind, I could have wandered right into the street, filled with rush hour traffic, and got hit by a car.

Later, we would occasionally run into each other, and when we did, we would exchange warm greetings and part with meaningful blessings.

This is an unforgettable event that I have told to many friends. Why unforgettable? Why tell this story to so many people? Simple. Sister Ann saw someone fall and immediately hurried over to help. She did not pause to see if the person was putting on an act; she did not stop to ask if the person was all right or needed help. Without a moment of hesitation, Sister Ann rushed to the scene — an act of duty, for this was not something she had to do, this was something she wanted to do. Without a doubt, her thoughtful and kind action came from her heart — most likely, from her faith.

Unforgettable? Absolutely.

Copyright by Sheldon F. Katz

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