The upside of public transportation is manifold: it makes ecological sense, it is communal, it frees the mind and the hands for things you can't do while driving, like email and reading and crossword puzzles and napping and stalking your grandchildren on Facebook, all of which I have done during this trip by train from New York to Rochester.
There are risks, of course. One never knows about the train, whether or not it will be on time, whether one will make one's connection. One especially doesn't know in January, on a day like today, when a disagreeable blanket of sleet and a falling thermometer has iced everything with a crystalline crust that makes walking a real adventure and travel in general a crap shoot. But today good fortune was mine: every train on time, or nearly so, every connection made, a seat by the window from which I could watch the urban east give way to the snow-covered west. New York City is lovely when it snows, but only for about an hour: after that, it forms grimy piles, melts into rushing torrents along the street, makes ankle-deep, freezing pools at each curbside, into which it's impossible not to plunge a foot if you need to cross the street. Head west and it's different. Mostly, the snow stays on the ground all winter once you've left Albany --why melt, it thinks, with so many relatives coming all the time to keep me company? I'll just lie here and look pretty until spring.
I keep a weather log on my iPhone of my children's and grandchildren's coordinates, so that I can scroll through and get an idea of what their days are like. It helps me to imagine them when we are not together. I throw in Florence, for good measure, so that I can imagine their days, too, those dear, funny people I miss so much. And I add the weather in the city to which I am traveling, so that I can be prepared for what I will find when I arrive. For instance, I can tell you that Rochester will be significantly colder than the California desert this evening, and tomorrow, and the day after that. But you knew that.
Isn't all that travel hard on you? people ask. It is hard if I let it be hard, if I turn every delay into an outrage instead of an adventure in self-reliance, flexibility and resourcefulness. But I don't do that. Travel by train or bus is a good way to remind yourself what it means not to be in charge, what it means not to be indispensable. I don't have to do a thing on this train but ride. We'll get there when we get there, and that's not my problem.
Here are some upcoming events at which Barbara Crafton will be speaking:
January 18-20. In residence at Houghton College, near Rochester, NY
Feb 5-6. St. Luke's, Metuchen, NJ. "Loving Life, Loving God: A Passionate Spirituality for Ordinary People." Saturday quiet day from 9-3, Sunday sermons and adult forum. Quiet Day is offered free of charge, but a freewill offering will be taken to help defray expenses. lunch and childcare provided. Reservations required; call Donniee at 732-548-4308' ext 10.
Feb 12-13. A second weekend at St Luke's, with Barbara preaching and celebrating at all services. Sat eve, 5.30, Sun 8 and 10am.
Feb 25-27. Diocese of San Joaquin. Barbara Crafton is retreat leader for the Daughters of the King in this reborn diocese. Www.diosanjoaquin.org
March 3. Christ Church, Pensacola, FL. Quiet Day for ecumenical clergy.
March 12. St John's in the Village, NYC. Barbara Crafton leads a Parish quiet day. Www.stjvny.org
March 18-20. Kirkridge Retreat Center, Bangor, PA. Barbara Crafton leads a retreat on forgiveness. 610-588-1793 or visit www.kirkridge.org
March 26. St. James the Less, Scarsdale, NY. Barbara Crafton leads a parish quiet day.
April 2-10. Barbara Crafton visits parishes in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Check the Farm, www.geraniumfarm.org, for unfolding details.
April 16. St. James,Madison Avenue, NY parish quiet day with Barbara Crafton. 212-288-4100
Enough! But there are many more. Visit www.geraniumfarm.org and click on "events."