The streetcar that I ride is classic Christmas green with brown edging. Usually once a week I’ll walk down to the streetcar stop to take a ride. My destinations vary. Yesterday I took the streetcar to visit a High School religion class on Saint Charles Avenue. I spoke to all four classes and at the end of the day got back on the streetcar, a train that does not care about race or sexuality, education or gender. We all sit in the same car (thanks to Rosa Parks) and commence on our respective journeys. One little girl about as tall as my knee told her girlfriend how she couldn’t wait to get home to eat cornflakes, take a hot bath and get a nap in before her momma got home. On another day, the driver spoke to me about the Presidential elections. He was very passionate about his election choice, warning me about the next four years. I thanked him for his observations and got off at the Latter Library. Another time some tourists in front of me were murmuring about how loud it was and how they should have stayed at the hotel to take a nap. I sat on the seat clutching my bookbag, protecting my laptop so it wouldn’t fall. Streetcars are bumpy, you know. The benches are hard so your body feels every movement, every shock of electricity. The lights will dim off and on near Carrollton and Willow. No one announces the stops. You just have to know. There are no maps in the car, just the signs from the windows. As I ride along, I watch the people get on and off and sometimes I hear the driver announce the next stop. She’ll even announce a good place to eat if you listen. This is journey. I’ve learned you have to listen if you want to reach some kind of spiritual maturity. It is a spiritual journey because it is humanity gathered together I see it as nearly as I see my own hand typing these words. It is humanity in the fullest sense, an existential snapshot of the human condition right there on Carrollton and Claiborne.
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So, I walk, meditating again in the urban jungle. Suffice it to say I am on a journey, a mediocre journey (I have come to terms with my own mediocrity long ago), and not always sure where the road will lead. I am okay with only having questions. I am not so naive, vain, or prideful (thank god) that I need answers. I am a seeker. That is the best word that describes my spirituality. I am a seeker on a particular rung of the wheel.
|Saint Charles Avenue Streetcar, New Orleans, Louisiana
"Meditations Aboard the Saint Charles Streetcar" was originally written on December 27, 2004. This is a repost of the original piece.