Monday, January 2, 2012
On The Train
There is a little girl in the seat behind me, singing. The songs are all nonsense with a few cannibalized bits of real song repurposed into her own. She has a high, clear little kid voice as she stands at the window looking out at the New Mexican landscape.
There's snow on the ground, something I haven't seen in a long time. It coats the desert floor, the scrub brown and dead underneath its wintery coat.
A guy keeps coming over and telling me that 'he's been noticing me'. It's a train. Not too many places you can disappear to. I just smile and nod, slide my headphones on. He seems harmless, but there's something about traveling alone, the vulnerability I guess, that makes me regard him nervously.
I am on the train with a group of Mennonites. You would think that they would be the ones with Bibles out, but it's really the older Hispanic women and the young charismatic Christian women littered throughout the train that are on Bible watch. The Mennonites are too busy playing with their kids and reading fiction to commune with God.
Writing this, I wonder if my expectations about the Mennonites are solely informed by my lack of any kind of interaction with them. They seem very nice and very self-contained and really only can be marked out as 'religious' because of their dress.
I think there's just something inherently fascinating to me about devout people (of all religions - I am not singling out the nice Mennonites with any of the below). Their adherence to another way of life, another way of interacting and dressing, it's impressive - especially to someone like me who lives a very ambivalent and rootless (as far as religion) life.
I admire their determination. When that determination is applied in a positive way, a lot of good is done - but the reverse is also true. So much suffering has been meted out in the name of God.
Poor God, always the scapegoat. Even on a train, barreling through New Mexico.