Today I traveled to the city.
I love traveling to the city because while I write about G‑d throughout the week, I actually get to meet Him while riding the subway and walking on Madison Avenue.
In my office I get to study Him, through my books; when I hit the streets, however, I get to see Him at work.
Watching Him is way cooler.
I descend the steps to the subway platform with the scream of "My G‑d!" still ringingAs I start off on my weekly jaunt, trekking through the Brooklyn snow, I see a young boy leap into the air, in an apparent attempt to execute a quadruple loop. Sadly he overreaches, and lands face-down in the slush. "Oh my G‑d!" shrieks a passerby as the boy begins to fall.
The boy is fine; I am less so, shaken by the shrill scream.
I descend the steps to the subway platform with the scream of "My G‑d!" still ringing in my ears until a rumbling, deafening number three train comes to my rescue.
I take my seat and begin looking out for Him.
G‑d, that is.
Sometimes He's harder to pick out in a crowd, sometimes easier. Today He is playing hard to get.
At the next station, just before the angry doors clamp their tired jaws shut, half a body appears between them. The half-person – you only see those on subways – is restored her whole status by a vigilant and considerate train conductor. Flustered from the experience as well as the abrupt jerk of the train, she murmurs, "Oh my G‑d. Oh my G‑d…"
Has she seen Him, I wonder?
The train and my thoughts ramble on until, before I know it, my stop is incoherently announced and I alight. I walk up the steps to the ground level, where I am warmly greeted by an intense roasted-nut flavored fog, as well as the maddening soundtrack produced and directed by New York's beep-hungry horn-loving taxi-noisemakers.
As I amble harmlessly down 33rd Street toward my destination, I am reminded that strolling in Manhattan is actually one of the more harmful sports one can engage in. Before I know it, I am caught up in a four-way pedestrian pileup which is caused, at least in my opinion, by a three way run-and-hit.
Of course I am the minority, with general consensus being that I should be ticketed for walking too slow – or at all – on the 33rd Street expressway. Luckily for me, they are in a rush and I get off scot-free.
I take turns listening in to the local broadcasters around meI stand at the corner waiting for my signal and feel out of place. I am the only one not on (or in) my cell. With no one to talk to while the traffic light takes its time, I take turns listening in to the local broadcasters around me. One man, I overhear, has just been notified that he's won a ticket to Florida. "Oh my G‑d!" he exclaims again and again, with ill-concealed manly excitement.
Eager for more news, I tune in to the woman on my left, the one with a (very) high-pitched voice that threatens to blow the circuit. Apparently, her husband is a work-at-home dad with a knack for blowtorching dinner, and she's just been informed of his most recent clash with schnitzel. "Oh my G‑d!" she shrills, stretching her vocal chords and my ear drums to their absolute limit.
The earlier ringing in my ears returns with renewed vigor.
Now it is my turn to mutter between clenched teeth, "Gut in Himmul!" ("G‑d in Heaven!")
Impatiently, and to keep my sanity, I hurriedly switch stations. I move closer to the guy in front of me who is animatedly chatting with himself, or so it seems from the fact that both his hands are shoved deeply into his coat pockets. As I inch closer to listen in, the traffic light, probably disgusted with my eavesdropping, turns colors; I suspect just to spite me.
We all start across the street together, but are stopped short by a sudden squeal of tires. We witness a close call for the gaudy Cadillac, its gaudy driver, and the un-gaudy guy who likes talking to himself. "G‑d Almighty…!" he bellows at the driver. In no time, the conversation turns French and I skip the country.
I approach my destination, 152 Madison Avenue.
The doorman rushes to open the door and chirps, "Thank G‑d you made it in this weather!"
"Yup," I replied, happy to be indoors.
I approach the elevators only to note that one is out of service, leaving the other doubly taxed.
People are gathered around waiting for a lift. I overhear one disgruntled fellow tell another, "G‑d knows when it'll be fixed…"
Finally I arrive at floor sixteen.
I step out of the elevator and approach the office of my study partner and friend, a political advisor for big shots.
As I walk through the doors, the first leg of my journey complete, I hear Daniel yelling about some politician gone under, "G‑d have mercy on him…"
Just another day at the office.
My mouth drops and my heart stopsWe wrap up our enjoyable and lively study time, and Daniel sees me off with a "G‑d bless you!"
"You too," I reply, "See you next week, G‑d willing!"
I exit the building; still no sight of Him.
I retrace my steps to the station, catch my train, settle into a spot near an autographed wall, and open up my Pentateuch, ready to escape.
My mouth drops and my heart stops.
This is the page I've opened to (Genesis, 24:7, Rashi's commentary):
Abraham said to Eliezer: "Now, He is the G‑d of the heaven and the G‑d of the earth, for I have made Him familiar in the mouth of people; [i.e., I have put people in the habit of mentioning Him]…"
Suddenly He is there, strikingly revealed.
In my book, and on the street.