February 25, 8:35 a.m.
B train – 7th Avenue to Rockefeller Center
She stands in a long black coat as a baby blue scarf hangs to her knees matching the knit hat that covers what must be long hair pulled into a tight bun. She looks nice, pretty even, in the way a middle-aged successful woman does.
Except she may be crazy.
She grasps the pole in the door with her right hand, bracing herself. It looks like she may be ready to dance or swing or, at the very least handle the subways turns.
She waits for the train to get into the open air of the bridge before she starts, leaving the riders with little choice but to listen for a prolonged time.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I just want to read you a little bit from this Bible.”
No one looks up. Your correspondent happened to have already been looking, even staring at her. Our eyes meet but there is no recognition of the staring.
She reads on about God, so loving as to give his only son. About Jesus, free of sin. About our need for love, to love.
A woman sitting directly underneath her looks like a churchgoer. Maybe 60 with short, brown, thinned hair and a knit sweater poking out of her down jacket. She just has that look: I-spend-Sundays-at-church-and-even-Saturdays-at-confession. And Tuesdays I bake bread for the bake sale after Mass.
She doesn’t flinch toward the preacher. Her Kindle appears more interesting. Maybe she needs a respite from preachers.
A man across stares with weary eyes. Maybe he’s remembering his sins. Maybe it is 8:30 in the morning.
A teenage girl lowers her eyes when the preacher mentions the need for us all to turn to God to find love. A hint of guilt, or something more interesting on the subway floor.
Further down, ear buds and blank stares appear to reflect the preacher with similar eagerness.
For four stops she reads and preaches. Mostly about love. God’s for us. God’s for Jesus. Jesus’s for us. Our lack of it. Our need for more love, especially the type directed at God.
When she departs at 34th she closes her small bible in her hands.
Your correspondent turns back on the iPod. “Waste of Paint” happens to be playing.