Letter From New York 01 14 15 In a world of contrasts…

Awaking to the bitter cold of the Hudson Valley, I ventured out and went down to the city today to have lunch with a friend, Nick Stuart, whom I had not seen for nearly a month. He had been in England for the wedding of his older daughter. When he returned, the mother of his partner, Lisa, took a turn for the worse and slipped toward death. He kept Lisa company while they watched her fade.

So it was great fun to see him today to thread together the weeks that had passed since last we saw each other. When I arrived in the city this morning, the first thing I noticed when I came up the escalator into Penn Station was the number of Amtrak police in the station. They were a swarm, complementing the armed soldiers and State Police.

It caused me to wonder if anything had happened that I wasn’t aware of. There had been a fire the day before in one of the tunnels serving the LIRR. Perhaps that was it. Or perhaps security has just been beefed up because of the Charlie Hebdo affair in Paris. It is my guess is that is the reason.

Charlie Hebdo underscored one of the great fears of security forces – hard to track lone terrorists determined on action. Also, this morning Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attacks, saying it had planned and financed the brothers who committed the killings.

Perhaps it is my imagination but the folks on the subway seemed tenser today, quieter, a little more subdued, a bit more wary. Certainly I felt that way and did from the moment I stumbled into the swarm of Amtrak police at the top of my escalator ride.

Returning to Penn Station this afternoon, I was once again aware of the beefed up police presence. It caused me to sigh; it has been this way since 9/11. Some days I notice it more and some days less. And some days it is more. Today is one of those days. Nestled in the calm of the Acela Club, I await the train that will take me back to the country, to the little patch of country that is mine, to the calming influence of the trees and creek and the ever-present deer roaming the property.

Much of the news of the day still focuses on Charlie Hebdo and its aftermath with more attention being paid to the situation in Nigeria, the Boko Haram having killed a couple of thousand there while all eyes were on Paris.

Our rock star Pope is in Sri Lanka where he met with a multi-faith delegation, something that did not happen when John Paul II went there. Francis is off after this to the Philippines where he is expected to say Mass in front of a crowd of six million. To help with the potential sanitation problems, the Philippine government is encouraging people to wear Depends. They are issuing them to all the police. Practical, if not a bit disconcerting in concept. I learned that on Saturday listening to my favorite radio program, “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!”

We live in a world of stark contrasts. The Holy Father travels the world preaching peace and reconciliation while Jihadists evoke the Prophet to justify murder. In France and Germany there are marches to denounce Islam and to support it. Hundreds of thousands in France have carried signs that declared: Je Suis Charlie while others carried placards that declared: Je Suis Juif, I am Jewish. France has declared war on radical Islam and in New York there are more soldiers and police on the streets and in gathering places.

It is small wonder that I am pleased to go home tonight to the little cottage for a moment’s respite before I return again to the city, which I will do tomorrow or Monday.

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3 Responses to “Letter From New York 01 14 15 In a world of contrasts…”

  1. sheila manning Says:

    great! miss you!

  2. Bruce Thiesen Says:

    Enjoy the country patch.

  3. tombers Says:

    Thanks. I am.

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