On a Windy Good Friday
For DB
By James Park
On a windy Good Friday, before reading my Grain, I went for a walk in the world. I wandered over to Riverside Park and saw there basically people and the evidence of people in the struggle for life. There are a large number of nice apartment buildings along the park testifying to the prosperity and ingenuity of man and also to his need for a home. This he seeks above all else. And then I saw a variety of lives variously engaged. There were those who had given up hope. There were those who had never had any hope. There were those waiting for a miracle to save them, the connection, and those waiting in various moods to die. None of them seemed satisfied with what he had done with his life, although this may have been a projection of my feeling. Even the smartly dressed young man with the equally well dressed young lady, obviously of the idle rich fully dressed in the middle of the day, there were wondering what people would think of them in the park leaning against the fence talking to each other in a nice way. There was about them a deep anziety that they were not dealing with in a satisfactory way. And then there was young married rich but trying to appear poor and like a beatnik. She was very self-conscious as she stepped up to set her child's pull-toy right side up. The beautiful blue-eyed baby couldn't have cared less I think the world was all so new for him. I think that if that damn toy had not been tied to him, he would not have trailed it along. I saw a strong well-featured Negro sitting with his face in the wind and turning, his head, to see who was passing behind him. He was wearing a black leather jacket, but wanted something better. And a question came to me on the wind: What shall a man do with his existence? What shall a man do with his existence? I saw a rusty spike protruding from a stone railing where something hag been broken off. I felt the wind in my hair (nothing can be at all like it). And I saw the whitecaps on Lake Calhoun. And I was at home. The rumble of tires was like a great distant waterfall, unceasing powerful-- if you didn't listen too carefully. And now I recall that there was a bird a wee sparrow hopping and chirping on a stone rail, he was happy, I guess. (Can birds be happy?...or sad?) And always the wind and the question: What shall a man do with his existence?
Published in
The Grain of Salt
Union Theological Seminary, New York
Volume 10, number 13.
April 9, 1964