Some people hate subways, but as a twice daily user–two trains into Manhattan from Brooklyn and two back–I have learned not only to accept that hour-plus ride each way, but even to enjoy it. Leaving Brooklyn soon after 5 a.m., I take my first train from the Crown Heights area four stops to Atlantic Avenue, a big connecting station for various trains of other lines that travel up the west side of Manhattan: the Q, the N, the D. The cross over from Atlantic Avenue involves climbing a huge double-tiered stairway (good cardiovascular workout and I don’t trust the elevators), and then sitting on a wooden bench to await the arrival of my preferred train.
The one I like best is none of the above, which travel express, but the R, a local that makes all the stops, bumping gently along its way into Manhattan. Why this preference for a slow train in a city where speed holds sway? Partly because on the R train, I always get a seat, but also because the extended travel time on the local allows me to do some morning meditating and spiritual reading. Currently, the reading is the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola--in Spanish. And because they are in 16th century Spanish, I have to concentrate harder (given my first-year college Spanish), and that in turn makes Ignatius’ thoughts come through more strongly. Arriving at my final stop next to Carnegie Hall, I have only to turn the corner onto West 56th Street and walk one block down to the America House entrance, prepared for another day in the 21st century.
George Anderson, S.J.