by Msgr. Steven A. Ferrari
A few days after Christmas, I battled the crowds at Rockefeller Center to see the large tree, and the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Christmas creche, which includes “Lex” (short for Lexington), the statue of the rector’s dog, sitting and gazing at the Christ Child.
Tired, I walked down the block to Madison Ave. to catch the Q32 bus back to St. Teresa’s, Woodside. I enjoy that bus route, looking out the windows at the city lights. The only passengers were four 20-somethings, speaking Spanish, one of them holding a large pizza box. I chatted with them a bit That left me as the only passenger – I had the entire city bus to myself – a totally new experience for me!
I jokingly questioned the driver, “So, are we going express now to Woodside?” He laughed, and then said to me, “I know you. You were on my bus last year and you told me a joke.”
OMG, I’m being recognized for my jokes by NYC bus drivers! It turns out that the driver’s wife was at Christmas Mass earlier this week. ‘Jimmy’ had to work and drive that day. And, yes, then I did recall being on his bus the year before. Now he asked for another joke, as he needed a bit of a pick-me-up.
Well, the bus ride did turn out to be an express. We flew over the 59th St. Bridge, to Queens Blvd. and 44th St. where I alighted. I was home in the rectory in record time. What were the chances that I’d get on that particular bus, at just the right time, with the joke-loving driver at the wheel? It just goes to show ya that even in a city of eight million people, it’s still a small world.
About 10 days later, I took a Q39 bus on Forest Ave. in Ridgewood. As I got onto the bus, the driver asks me, “Excuse me, sir, but do you know this bus route well?” I said I knew it fairly well. Although a bus driver for three years, it was his first day on this route and he needed my help to navigate with him!
Despite my being bundled up for the frigid temperatures, I suppose he caught a glimpse of the priestly collar. Until I got off the bus on 48th Ave. in Woodside, ‘John’ and I had a lively and interesting discussion about faith, prayer and all things spiritual. He had attended Christ the King H.S., Middle Village. His brother is one of the pastors at the large non-denominational Times Square Church in Manhattan.
John spoke freely of his prayer life and how God works in mysterious ways – my getting on his bus being one of the proofs. We conversed while he glanced at his hand-written notes on where to turn, and I helped point out the streets as I knew them. Before exiting the bus and trying to negotiate my way around the piles of dirty snow, he praised God and we blessed each other.
I reflected how just that morning at Sunday Mass on the feast of the Epiphany, I had preached about letting our light shine, of being a light for others. Certainly John was a bright, uplifting light for me, and I trust, I for him as well. Yes, God does work in sometimes strange and marvelous ways. Amen!
Msgr. Ferrari is the pastor of St. Teresa’s parish, Woodside.