We just got back from midtown-Manhattan, on a trip to visit a parish on 31st run by the Capuchins of the St. Mary Province. Since we've been here in New York, we've only had a limited chance to go around and see some of the sights. Today was a chance to take the train from Brooklyn into the city and visit with some of the friars of New York.
In spite of being a mid-west boy who's not used to the big city, I felt quite at home. Having experienced Chicago and Milwaukee, Brooklyn has been a great change of scenery. Taking the train "into the city" felt normal in a way. It's hard to explain: after spending time in a city like Grand Rapids, and thinking I needed to find peace and quiet in my life, I feel strangely calm in the bustling life of a metropolitan area.
Perhaps this is what makes Franciscans different than the other monastic orders. Rather than try to hide or completely silence all the distractions in life, I've found a way to be at peace in the world. Whether someone is playing congas on the J train for extra cash, a couple is arguing with each other in front of Madison Square Garden, or graffiti covers the window I sat near on the way back to Brooklyn, there is something harmonious in all of it. It is as if I can see the hand of God present in all things.
Tomorrow I will go with one of the New York postulants to their ministry. They also work with the homeless. It will be interesting to compare notes.