I walk through Times Square all the time.
Truth to tell, I walk through Times Square usually in a huge hurry to make a train and generally filled with irritation at some slow-moving, camera-wielding, rubber-necking tourist who is hogging the sidewalk and doesn’t step aside for this self-important, briefcase-toting New Yorker.
God forgive me, I love tourists. I delight in being asked for directions and pride myself on being that one New Yorker they meet in the big city who isn’t anything like the rude, pushy stereotype.
After all, I was once a tourist in New York myself, visiting the city for the first time when I was only ten years old, agog at the skyscrapers, the lights, the noise, the people.
Problem is, I forget that enchanted inner child, God’s beloved, when I’m on some agenda to get from point A to point B with goal of C and D, which is usually the case when I’m hurrying through Times Square.
Maybe, kind reader, the same thing happens to you behind the wheel of a car, and you’re stuck behind some slow-driving, lost out-of-towner who you know is texting when they shouldn’t be.
“God, make me patient RIGHT NOW!” is one of those paradoxical prayers we all say.
The other evening, I was rushing through Times Square, heading to the train after a performance, a little tired, wishing I could be home right now.
Then I stopped near the spot where the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, brouhaha I’ve always avoided, and thought, “Wait a minute. Look where you are.”
For a moment I recovered the wonder with which God invites us to see the world, marveling at what God-given human ingenuity, creativity and alas, tireless marketing could create.
Sometimes those moments of “considering now the lilies” happen in the oddest places.
A tourist walked by and I asked, politely I hope, if she would mind taking my picture. No selfie would do here. “Sure,” she said.
“This is an amazing place, isn’t it?” I said, putting my briefcase down.
“It sure is.”
I just needed to slow down and take it in, giving thanks for the chance to walk through it all the time, scales lifted from my eyes like the blind man who could now see. To be grateful is only to see how much more we have to be grateful for.
I thanked her, put my coat back on, picked up my briefcase and headed for my train. I made it in plenty of time.