By Bill Bodin
I think I found God. Yahweh. God, God. Woody Allen as well.
My life runs in cycles, and when I’m in a good one all these little connections start to appear, linking random chance and experience in serendipitous moments where the song I just read about a day ago begins playing on the radio, or the cafe I talked about with Rachel on my walk home is profiled in the New York Times. They cascade, really, one on top of the other, making unexpected loops around one subject and into the next as they tumble out in front of me in a joyous mess. In a glorious mess. In His glorious mess.
I’ll tell you the two events that really put me on His path. Or rather that made His path so apparent. When I say His I mean God’s; That’s why I capitalize it, because it’s technically a proper noun. You’ve heard of Jesus Christ right?
Is He with the Jews as well? I only ask because the first event happened to involve a book of Yiddish proverbs. Which, when you really get down to it, is just semantics, you know, because It’s all His word (God’s).
On Monday I was trying to decide whether to drop a class that was hard – heavy workload, serious teacher – but offered the chance for personal growth in the way of scholarship and work ethic; or replace it with one that I still wanted to take, but that seemed safer – a class that wouldn’t require long nights of devoted study each week, that wouldn’t “hold my feet to the flames” as we say. Now, currently, my life is in a good cycle. Just the other day I recognized a stranger on the street! So I looked to what at that time I blindly knew as chance, and headed over to the bargain books in front of The Strand for an answer, a course of action. I selected a rack at random (in truth He guided my hand) and then a book at random (again, God) and pulled out a collection of Jewish proverbs. On the cover Woody Allen proverbialized, “Sex and death. Two things that come once in my lifetime. But at least after death you’re not nauseous.”
I flipped to the section on work and found this quote: “One thing acquired through pain is better for man than one hundred things easily achieved”
That one was definitely a point for staying in the class, but then I saw that “our slavery is that we choose to be slaves” so it was kind of one in both columns.
“In winter the lazy man does not plow; at harvest time he seeks, and finds nothing”
“Labor is a craft, but perfect rest is an art”
“Why do you spend money on that which is not bread?”
“Where there’s smoke there’s salmon”
I had wandered into the food section in a sort of daze and quickly shook myself out at the blare of a car horn; At that time the ledger stood at 2 to 1 for staying in the class. He has a plan for everything.
Yet against His will I ended up switching out of the class and felt a deep, fiery sense of guilt after doing so, which is why I think I might also be Catholic.
The second event came tonight as I walked through Little Italy. I want to address what you are thinking immediately and say yes, it is pretty incredible that it was Little Italy, the younger brother of Big Italy where both the Pope and the Vatican are from. There was a kind of street festival going on and the narrow roads were lined with all manner of kitsch and food that pressed the crowd into a methodical stream underneath the hanging green, red, and white lights.
I entered the flow and as if on cue “Peace Be Still” by Reverend James Cleveland (a song I had saved to my phone 3 months ago (Holy Trinity?)) began to play. The slow side to side whirring of the organ welled up beneath me; the lights coalesced into a single warm glow above me; I looked out to the river ahead and felt its pull. I was nothing and everything in that moment, shepherded through the earthly sights and smells by the soul rending rhythms of the gospel in my ears, feeling the strangers who shuffled in the processional around me as brothers in communion. We were a river and I was nothing but a drop of water, heading slowly but surely to salvation.