I'm working at the intersection point of science and religion today. Literally, perhaps, as I'm sitting on a bench at 17th & the Parkway in Philadelphia, in sight of both the Franklin Institute and the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul. I had two meetings this morning at the Archdiocese, and have another on science this afternoon. I had thought to head for the CHF in Old City and camp out in the library there between meetings, but the day is lovely and when I sat down on this bench to change my shoes and check my email, I decided to stay for a bit. The tours buses brush past, runners pound the pavement to my right, and sparrows tentatively touch down -- hoping that I might have left them some crumbs...but the only ones I have are snippets of conversations that drift past. The breeze blows and all I have -- or really need -- at the moment sits in front of me. My bag with book, breviary, iPad, phone, umbrella and wallet.
In some ways I don't look much different from my counterpart down the block. He, too, has his gear for the day weighing down the end of a bench. We're both peering up at the world moving past, perhaps both a bit leery of the dark clouds that have blown in over the last few minutes. And maybe he is wondering, as I am, where to find a public restroom.
Still, there are more than 6 lanes of traffic dividing us, I suspect. I'm connected to not only the world wide web, but to a vast set of supports that allow me to pack up a small bag and be comfortable on my feet for a day in the city. From a job, a family, a house with a roof that (mostly) does not leak, to the newly asphalted streets on which to ride my bike to the trains that run into the city.
And it's interesting to see the looks you get when you look at home with a bag on a bench....what do we see when we look at each other?