Friday, November 20, 2009
as best we can...
for some reason i am thinking of a few moments... the first one comes to mind, it was the september of the world trade center bombings, i was sitting on the grass on the sheep's meadow in central park. a young man came up to me and began talking to me. he said that he and a group of young people had come to new york to pray with new yorkers in light of the tragic happenings of september eleventh. you know me... i thought how sweet. i asked him how it was going...
he was curious about my background. he asked if i went to church. i explained to him how i had always been attracted to church. really. i remember as a little girl, maybe i was three or four years old, asking my mother if i could go to church. on the city block where we lived there were two churches. one directly across the street from our house, and the other, down at the corner at the end of the block.
i remember my mom dressing me for church that morning in my pretty little dress, white socks turned down at the ankle and patent leather mary janes. she held me by the hand, walked me across the street (it was a small street) and told me before going into the church alone to have someone cross me back across the street and come on home afterwards. and i did. the first time, that i remember, going to church was alone when i was about four years old.
the trappist monk thomas merton, who was also an artist and poet, writes about how churches in new york are a kind of oasis, a cool quiet place to sneak into to escape the chaos of the busy city. i always remember this when ducking into a quiet sanctuary.
when i shared this story with the young guy who had come to new york to pray, he looked at me and said... so you are called. i'd never thought of my love for a contemplative life of prayer which includes the wisdom of eastern philosphy, and my love of writing that inspires, as a calling, but there you have it.
i just think of these little instances when i was seemingly too little to know... when i think and wonder what this guy could seemingly see that i had not. i get to wondering if i've had a kind of angel with me always, not only leading me into seemingly unfamiliar places and spaces, but looking after me in difficult moments as well.
i remember as a little girl too, i/we must have been about four years old. this was when parents could let their children go out to play seemingly without a care. we were a group of girls. i remember, there were about five of us. and i can see his apartment door now in my mind. he lived on the first floor of a six story building. the buildings on our block had big lobbys and we would play inside them, and too go outside to play on the sidewalks. lots of room for play! this man on the first floor used to invite the little girls inside his apartment and give them a quarter to touch them. i know, horrible.
i have no idea why, but i never went in. i would wait for the girls outside the apartment. i remember them coming out to show me their quarters. we would all wait there until we were all together again and then go on with our playing down the street. to this day i have no idea why i never went inside that man's apartment. i never was even tempted. i also don't know why we didn't tell our parents.
just thinking that sad things happen in life...and we do our best to keep on keeping on.
not sure why this story came to mind today. maybe it has a bit to do with feeling light blue, and remembering how even when we don't have that perfect slant of light, perfect upbringing, or when freaking planes fly into buildings, we still find a way to keep on as best we can...