Seven Quick Takes: Weekend In NY Edition


A week or so ago I had some talks to give a little North of Manhattan, so I took Eldest Weed with me to galavant in the city with my Spies in New York, and I joined them towards the end of the weekend.  Observations, small and large.

1. Wouldn't be surprised if Eldest Weed is a New Yorker eventually. The city makes him come alive somehow. There's a sigh of satisfaction I sigh when we're in the mountains, utterly away from concrete. I heard him sigh the exact same sigh as we came out of the Battery tunnel and the Freedom Tower loomed enormous right on top of us. 

2. Don't say there are no modest men left in Manhattan. 

3. There were wonderful people in the parish where I spoke, but none the folks I spoke with during the course of an all-day workshop was married. Everyone was divorced, or in various stages of annulment. I am not saying they weren't serious Catholics or that this was a "Catholic lite" parish. It wasn't. It's a dynamic parish with a wonderful pastor, the kind of place that gives you hope. Many of the people I worked with were the kind of Christian I absolutely adore: people who have been made modest, calm and kind through suffering or failure of some kind. They understand their need for grace, their faith is true and deep, and they know how to uphold standards without being jerks about it.  Some of the folks there began to take their faith seriously precisely because their marriages failed. I am not picking on them, I'm simply observing that the disappearance of marriage is already a reality in the NE --it's not some future horrible.  Not sure what to say about this yet, I'm just thinking about it. How does one hold marriage out as a blessing and a good if no one has ever *seen* one and no one can imagine a different reality? And if the Christian community itself is not all that interested in the question, because its members are trying to be holy on a different vocational path?

How are pastors supposed to preach about marriage when even good Christians are inclined to hear their words as a rebuke and feel "left out," as if the Church views them as damaged goods?

4. The Saturday evening I drove down from my workshop to join my party in the city, I had the best driving experience in NY ever. Gorgeous day for a drive. When I departed FDR drive and turned right into the city proper, it wasn't crowded and I somehow hit the timing right such that every traffic light turned green for me as I headed South. Then I turned right onto My Spy in New York's street, and turned right into a car pulling out of a parking space where I could slip right in, a mere two blocks from her place. This was how I knew God must have been pleased with my workshop.

5. Eldest Weed & I went to Mass at St. Patrick's since he'd never been there. Alas, it's being renovated and the interior is mostly under scaffolding. He still thought it was beautiful. Cardinal Dolan was there. We saw him up close prior to the procession. Members of the NYFD were there for a blessing. The Cardinal told them their visit is one of his favorite Sundays of the year because they're the only ones who don't cough in the presence of incense. But he said the MC doesn't like it when they come because they blow out all the candles. "We can't have that, fellas." After Mass he said he understood they were having a special breakfast. "Will you have bacon? Will there be donuts? Bloody Marys?  I'm coming over!" It was charming. He gave a workmanlike homily for Good Shepherd Sunday, too, but I confess I was tired and didn't much take it in.

6. Yay Pimsleur language tapes! On the subway on the way home from Mass I overheard two gals speaking in French -- and I understood every word they said. Since I now have a hellish commute, I've been trying to pick up French via CD. I'm illiterate and probably can't conjugate any verbs, but conversationally I'm up through French II and can swallow my "r"s tolerably well -- or at any rate much better than when I first started and thought I'd never get that sound.  I am absurdly proud of myself for understanding, "Would you like to come for dinner tonight?"  "No, sorry, that's just when he arrives with his wife. Maybe tomorrow at our place?"  "Great, as long as it's in the afternoon. I'll bring the wine."

7. I let my teenage son drive me most of the way to New York. Let no one ever despise my courage. Or his.

Head over to This Ain't The Lyceum for more quick takes.

Update: I forgot to mention: there was a coyote at my Spy in Battery Park's front door Saturday morning. By which I mean an actual coyote, not a human trafficker. How does a coyote make it to the southern tip of Manhattan do you suppose?