A Return to a Special Place

I’ve been in New York for several days visiting friends and family. On Wednesday, I planned to go into Manhattan to see the Picasso exhibit at the Metropolitan and to spend some time walking around Central Park. Both were common haunts during the days I lived in Brooklyn Heights.

My day, however, did not go quite as planned. The combination of a long morning phone call followed by an unexpected conversation with another houseguest of the friends I’m staying with meant I got a much later start than I had anticipated. Arriving in Manhattan at 12:05, I walked down 31st street, site of St. Francis Church and got there just in time for the 12:15 Mass.

This was a very special church for me during the time I was struggling with my return from Buddhism to Catholicism. I would get off the Long Island Railroad every day and wander into the church. First, I’d sit alone. Then, after some time, I was able to talk to Francis. Then, finally one day, in that very church, Francis stepped aside and there was God.

I sat in the pew, looking up at the mosaic of Mary above the altar and felt totally at peace. After Mass, I had lunch and walked around a bit (stopping in the main branch of the New York library) and then returned to St. Francis, going downstairs to St. Anthony’s chapel, where I often went for morning prayer in the fall of 2001. I walked in to see that the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration. I knelt and then sat for a while in the quiet, feeling Jesus’ presence more profoundly than I have in a good long while. It was good to be back there.

It was not the way I planned to spend my day. But I have a feeling I spent the day exactly as God wanted me to.