Sitting in the City

I enjoy being still. I enjoy meditation. I spend a lot of my life travelling and in unknown cities and towns I find the best places to meditate are

  • Churches
  • Train stations
  • Bus stops
  • Parks

These are the liminal spaces, outside of the shopping and the hustle and bustle. Churches are purpose built for prayer. Parks are places to relax and retreat.

I remember a friend of mine years ago telling me that she loved going to train stations when she needed time to think.  The world is open to you in a train station.  Everything and everyone are connected by lines and announcements. The paradox of the train station is that as much as being a place to go somewhere, it is also simply a place to be still.  It is a liminal place in the city where anything is possible.

If you sit on a bench in a train station with your eyes closed, no one will bother you.

There is a calm in the storm.

This afternoon,  after spending an hour in a coffee shop and drinking too much hot chocolate, I packed my kindle in my bag and headed out into the city.  I didn’t know where I was going but I wanted somewhere to sit and just be.  Around a corner the train station lay before me and in I went.

I sat and took nine deep breaths.

I love people watching.  Today an old man approached me. He was dressed all in black with a hat and walking stick. He asked me in a strong Welsh accent if the train had been. He said he was surprised to see me sitting here and that he always came to watch the 5 to 5.30 train leave. It took me a moment to translate that to 5.25.  I don’t think he heard a word I said when I tried to quickly explain that I wasn’t waiting for a train and didn’t know if one had been. He seemed happy as he ended the conversation and made his way to a far off bench. I half wished he’d sat beside me so I could talk to him.  Across from me were four south Asian men and an African woman. They were all in their early twenties. She had an African accent but the men had English ones. I heard the word graduation and we were in Aberystwyth,  so they must have been students. Most of their conversation revolved around the new phone one of them was showing off. They seemed to be waiting for a train and as none of them had Welsh accents I presumed they were waiting for a train.  They eventually left the station talking about how great it was to catch up.  I didn’t pay any attention to the bi-lingual announcements so perhaps their train had been cancelled.  I carry a notebook and pencil with me wherever I go and spent some time mind mapping my thoughts. I left feeling refreshed and inspired thankful to the space for the blessings it had bestowed.

Have you found your spaces to sit in the city?

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