The man on the 4 train…

One dark morning, a decade ago, I stood pressed and yet alone, bucking and swaying on a screaming subway car. It was a cold season. An empty season in the heaving city.

A man in his fifties, sixties- it doesn’t really matter- approached me. His clothes were layered and wrapped around him like the burden of memory and I was at once alarmed and quieted by the passage in his eyes when I looked up from my book.

“Psalm 37 has always spoken to me.” And then he walked out of the flexing doors.

I turn now to those words. In this bright night of tears. In this sharpness of confused rage. I am told that the season of waiting has begun, but haven’t we been waiting? Aren’t we flailing at solid, metal poles just to hear the deafening clang as they clatter to the floor and roll at our feet? Still the train bullets through, night after night into morning after morning. We find ourselves in the depths, where the sun circumvents us in its rising. Where sound is muted by dirt and simultaneously ricochets through the tunnels under the city. Echoes that travel to the graves that hold the brown-skinned bodies buried for centuries, for weeks, for hours, in stolen earth. When will our savior rise again? When will our king overcome? When will our hearts again be warmed by the just sun?

Psalm 37:1-11

“Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong;

For like the grass they will soon wither,

like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;

trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,

the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;

do not fret when evil men succeed in their ways,

when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;

do not fret- it leads only to evil.

For evil men will be cut off,

but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

A little while, while and the wicked will be no more;

though you look for them,

they will not be found.

But the meek will inherit the land

and enjoy great peace.”