Monday, November 23, 2009


I had a strange and a wonderful experience this weekend on my way to New York. I was in the car with Jon on our way to Trenton to catch my train. It was early morning; the sun was just coming up, glowing red and orange with some pink and purple tints. There was some ground mist, but it had already lifted some and was about mid way up the trees. The trees now bare, display their intricately laced branches and twigs which silhouetted against the rising sun.

It took my breath away with the beauty and peacefulness of it all. I didn’t want to continue on to the train, I wanted to stop the car and go and stand among the trees until the fog lifted completely and the sun lost its color and was midway through its climb.

However, on we continued. I made it to the train with plenty of time to buy my ticket, watch it rumble on into the station- whooshing air, lifting hair and skirts as it pasted. Why do I walk along side the train as it slows to a stop? I walk beside the train trying to line up with a door, why not just wait until it stops and then go to the nearest door, I ask myself. Some how I feel I must help it park just so.

I settle into my seat, retrieve my ticket from my handbag, plug my earphones into my ears, turn on my iPod, pull out my Kindle, and wait for 7:34. I’m ready and so is the train, together we head to New York. With all my appliances up an running, protecting me from screaming children and gossiping young women, we move on down the tracks.

After we pass Newark International Airport, I put my Kindle down. I look out the window and see an industrial wasteland – factories opened and some abandoned. There is all the equipment lining the tracks that keep the train running and there is trash, junk, gravel and detritus, all in shades of grey. The only color comes from the splashes of graffiti lining the walls of factories and pillars of bridges.

But, every so often, there is a stand of trees or a tiny island of swampland with water along the tracks. I am amazed to see that where there is a tiny patch of water, there are also birds. The beauty of the wasteland is unmistakable and the tiny patch of swamp a gift. I am undecided if I find more beauty in the wasteland or in the swamp teeming with life. I still cannot choose between the two. But, I am awed that Mother Nature can always reclaim what is hers, even here in North Jersey.

Then we, me and the train, pass a large swamp with rice like plants that grow and cover a large expanse, just the kind of place Dick Chaney might like to hide and wait for caged birds to be released to shoot them out of the sky. It too was so brimming with beauty that I wanted to pull the handle to stop the train so that I could spend more time in the swamp looking for birds, not to shoot, but just to watch with an envious eye as they fly to the sky.

We enter the tunnel with one last look at New Jersey and it’s all black, I can see my reflection in the window and I notice that my hair is a mess. I don’t touch it however, I just turn my attention to putting away all of my electronic armor that keeps the world at bay and wait for the train to land. We stop on track eleven; I have this misbegotten belief that the track that we arrive on will be the track on which we will depart. I have been proved wrong, time and time again, but it doesn’t stop me from hoping that this time I will be right. So, I strained to look.

Leaving the station, I breathe in the chilly New York air. I love New York. I love emerging from the station on to the street and taking that first breath. Some how, as I breathe in New York air, I become one with the city, I feel good. The crowds are bustling, the cops hang on the corner near their mobile command post, cabbies flying past, people waiting for the light to change, but making a run for if there is a break in the cars going by, even though the cop blows his whistle at them, they run anyway. I love New York.

I stop at the pharmacy across from Penn Station to buy some aspirin because my back doesn’t feel so good. I love the train, but the seat and I are never one. They always activate my sciatica and today it was bad.

Even though it was difficult to walk and each step a reminder of my seat on the train, I feel the same connection that I felt that morning with the rising sun among the lacy branches and with the industrial wasteland, I feel awe. As the people hurried, or trotted, or ambled, or limped past me on their way to who knows where, I felt the beauty and the connectedness that I felt with all the other vistas that I connected with that morning. I felt our oneness, I felt perfection and I for just a bit, I felt God.

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