The first thing we notice when we get off the subway escalator is that there are no homeless people in United Nations Plaza.
We see men wearing scarves tied around their heads, lots of bling and brand new, very expensive baggy pants slung so low they belt them just above their knees.
TV cameras are set up in several places on the plaza side facing the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Ordinary people, eyes wide open, wearing fresh, clean, unwrinkled clothing, chat excitedly in small groups.
What’s going on? Closer, we spot the auditorium marquee: “America’s Got Talent Auditions.”
Within minutes, hopefuls line the block next to the auditorium. Soon they line our side of the street as well, snaking around the lawn.
People come and go, excited, smiles wrapped round their faces, gesticulating and speaking in high-pitched voices.
“What if … ?” “What if … ?”
We take our position and take deep breaths, settling into meditation space. Groups of two, four, six pass by, animated and hopeful.
People with guitars, people with costumes that so distract us we look at each other with questioning eyes. People with dogs and yes, even a pony, with the fluffiest blond tale.
A rocket man takes off with a roar so painful that covering our ears doesn’t begin to ease the pain. He soars into the sky and lands in front of the auditorium doors. Our ears ache for twenty minutes afterward.
All the while, we stand, trying to maintain our silence, returning again and again to our meditation, aware that none of our regulars are in the park this morning.
Not the homeless.
Not the young man who walks round and round the block, glancing at us or studiously not glancing at us with each round.
Not the elderly couple, she pushing him in his wheel chair, he sometimes struggling to walk with a multi-pronged cane, the chair right behind him, to catch him should he fall.
We are humanity.
People with dreams and prayers and loves and losses.
People cut off from mainstream society by illness–mental or physical or both.
People striving to grow a good world.
People striving to get by.
I pray, standing here, that each and every person receive what she needs, that love fill his heart, that peace grow from here to there and there and there and back to here.
Text and image © L Kathryn Grace – All rights reserved