Very Small Things
As the lesson said, “mustard seed,” I thought there must be smaller things than that, things so small that is the size of the faith that I have, like, perhaps a speck of dust. Last night I was taking the train home and suddenly realized that I had no money, and would never have any money again.
Then I played this game I like, which is, I need something/what do you need? Feeling poor (as opposed to actually being poor, which I am not) is about thinking there is something that would make you happy, you just can’t afford it.
This game worked well, as the 4 train stopped and went and stopped and went along back to Brooklyn. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted that I couldn’t have it seemed like I actually had what I wanted.
I had spent the evening watching a documentary about the New York pavilion from the 1964 World’s Fair. Many people have tried to protect and preserve the flying saucers on sticks that sit in Queens, patiently rotting.
The documentary was shown at City Reliquary, a place that was on my list of spots to visit in the city. When I walked in, a woman with nicely curled hair said, “Welcome, admission is free,” and I walked through a turnstile for no apparent reason but the love of turnstiles.
Among the incredibly adorable things they have are:
- a dancing mannequin in tribute to Little Egypt, the famous burlesque dancer, and a (formerly) nearby theater founded by Fanny Brice
- samples of soil from each of the five boroughs
- a pretend wedding cake from a beloved Mexican bakery now out of business
- rocks collected at Rockaway Beach
- a listening station to hear “The Bridge” by Sonny Rollins, surrounded by information about the Williamsburg Bridge, which inspired the piece
- pieces of stone from famous building of New York: the Waldorf Astoria, the Guggenheim
- a hammer labeled “very old hammer”
The hammer was my favorite.
Earlier in the week, I had been to the Met’s exhibit about Jerusalem. (For the bargain price of $1.) They had stained glass windows, marble carvings, gold trays, Bibles and prayer books and Korans, it was all beautifully done. It didn’t move me nearly as much as the grubby City Reliquary, though.
They did have two manuscripts written in Maimonedes’s own hand, as the label said, and that blew my mind. In one of them, he is raising money to ransom people who have been kidnapped. In his own hand.
Six years ago, I went into a junk shop in Iowa City and found this little bronze Arab-looking guy sitting cross-legged, and I loved him, and bought him, and took him home, and then I figured out he was Maimonides. Maimonides is a strange person for me to love, since he is most known for his interest in the law and science, two areas which aren’t exactly my greatest passions.
After church I took the train to coffee, and on the way, I, and many of my fellow New Yorkers, had to walk a million miles under the Fulton Street station because not only is the 3 train not running today, the A and the C and the 1 are not running, either.
When I finally got on a train, there was this foursome standing next to me, four adults and a baby I was making eyes at, they were trying to figure out how to get to 96th Street, they had taken the train downtown to get uptown, which is the worst thing in the world except taking it from Brooklyn to Manhattan to get to Brooklyn again. “The weekend train is so awful, especially today,” I said, and then I chatted with one of the ladies. “You just gotta have patience, what else can you do?”
We chatted a while until the guy with her tried to interrupt, and she said, “Excuse me, I’m talking to this nice lady.”
Then I told her to have a nice afternoon, and I got off at 14th Street, and I felt like I had what I needed.