Three times a during this 2015-2016 academic year, I spend a week living in New York City in order to take classes for my Doctorate program. I've just finished day 2 of my second week and it would be an understatement to say that this is intense! Class generally runs from 9am (which means I have to rise with the sun, and I'm not a morning person) to 8pm. I walk the seven blocks back and forth each day and feel the hum every morning of a city filled with students from Columbia and Barnard rushing to class, workers scurrying with cell phones in hand, and parents with pooches in tow dropping their tots off at school. In the evening it still hums as restaurants teem with patrons, workers scurry home, and the pooches are back out for an evening walk. I'm exhausted at the end of the day but I'm also full. It's not just the professors, coursework, or my fellow students that fill me with inspiration and wonder. The Big Apple does it to me every single day.
New York city is a magical place whose reputation, in some respects, has shifted over the years. There was a "clean up" of some of the seedier areas and crime rates have dropped. But some things haven't changed. Namely, the New Yorkers themselves. They are fabulous. I did say fabulous! Yeah, they can be brusk. Yeah, they like to honk. Yeah, they're in a hurry and you'd better get out of the way. And, yeah, they are friendly (but not like the bless-your-heart South friendly) and they do smile (but you probably need to smile first) and they will help you (not even a "but" on this one). I'm inspired by New Yorkers and this wonderful city. I'm talking about the everyday New Yorkers on the street, the doormen in apartment buildings, the cashiers in the neighborhood market, the cabbies, the waitresses, even the panhandlers.
Just yesterday, I was walking on Broadway in front of Nussbaum & Wu Bakery and Cafe (how NY is that?!) when a panhandler asked me for money. I didn't slow down but I did offer a smile, saying "Not tonight." He says "That's ok, thanks anyway". Within a matter of seconds another panhandler a few doors down shouts over to the first panhandler "Hey! Don't talk to my wife", and proceeds to ask me "you want me to knock him out for you?". I assure him "No need. You have a good night." His reply, speaking as if this entire scenario, including Nussbaum & Wu, are not the least bit out of the ordinary, "Thanks. You too". Only in the Big Apple!
Don't listen to the haters, New York. You may not be perfect but your bark is far worse than your bite and I think you're pretty inspirational.
I had hoped to post once a week, and did for a short time. Unfortunately, my doctorate research and other obligations have taken priority over the blog. BUT, I will return soon! Some postings may be articles I've written for publication, messages I've delivered in congregational settings, or excerpts from papers written in my doctoral classes.