Saturday, January 5, 2013

Accidentally and On Purpose

We're on vacation right now, for just a little while longer, anyway.   And I brought a little prayer book, and I brought a little New Testament, but I haven't spent a lot of time (truthfully) doing the daily prayers and reading the daily readings.

But I have been walking, sightseeing, planning and discovering.  And I think those are spiritual practices too.

We took a planned tour the other day, which turned out to be a good idea, since it was sort of a drizzly, cold morning.  We had a wonderful guide and got oriented to the city.  Then we got off the bus and walked, which was part of the plan, but turned out to be a bad idea, mostly.  It got colder and more than drizzly and the buses seemed to disappear.  I sort of got disoriented and started walking the wrong way a couple of times, which turned out to be because I was reading the map upside down.

But then, at one point, we just walked into this funky old locksmith store.   I saw a newspaper article near the entrance.  It turns out that the owner of this store saved the stools from the lunch counter where civil rights activists sat during the 60s, protesting Jim Crow there.  They were just sitting there, in all their shining silver and orange-seated glory.

Yesterday was sunny and beautiful.  We decided to walk.  And we had a list of things we wanted to make sure to see, too.  The Owens-Thomas House, an old bookstore, a couple of other things, a civil rights museum.  But the museum was closed, and as we were walking and looking for something else, we just happened to be standing by Temple Mickve Israel, the third oldest synagogue in the United States.

We actually got to see a Torah Scroll which was brought over to America in 1733.  We toured the sanctuary, with its beautiful stained-glass windows and gothic architecture.

I think it's a good thing to have a list and check things off, sort of like saying your prayers from the book, and on purpose.  But it's also a good thing to find yourself in a holy place, not by plan but by accident, and realize that God was in this place, too, and you did not know it.

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