Stumbling away from my cubicle at lunch time, blurred with boredom and fatigue, I find myself in an elevator going down 31 floors. On the way, my fellow passengers are all deeply involved with their phones – texting, scrolling, listening… I look at people doing this a lot in NYC, on the sidewalk, the train, in the lobby, and I think, “What are they doing? Calling their kids? Checking Twitters? Texting a girlfriend? Looking at the stock quotes? Reading a Shakespeare sonnet..?”
Personally, I am happy with my primitive cell phone that I rarely use. I have no desire to be connected, not when I am away from my work/desk, anyway. This is not a criticism – I just don’t fathom the attraction this activity has for all these people so much of the time.
I made my way down Broadway to my favored cold-weather lunch time nap location, Trinity Church. Inside, a service is going on, and I find my way to a padded bench in the back corner and settle in. My attention is caught by the wonderful voice of the minister giving his homily on theodicy, the existence of evil and strife in God’s world. Why is there tragedy like the earthquake in Haiti? Does God cause it, let it happen? Very few people are at the service, but the minister speaks very well – I can accept everything he says by simply jettisoning the God-stuff.
Religion does offer something! A quiet place, a haven from the idiotic swirling frenzy of talk, arrangements, markets, advertisements, gossip, bad news, celebrity…the stuff of workaday life. Drills down to the essential, witnessing love, a larger mission to give meaning to life, compassion, the inevitable arc of living from birth to death, all that universal stuff.
He finishes, some organ music, and I dimly sense people going forward…to take communion?, shake his hand – no, the hand shaking happened a few minutes ago… I drift in and out of sleep for fifteen minutes and awake, somewhat refreshed.