found photo, commuter train in japan

On the train, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my seatmate cross herself. Forehead, heart, left shoulder, right shoulder, lips (tiny kiss sound). I thought it was the music she was listening to on her shiny black iPod, maybe religious music, so I stole another glance. But it was Silk. I craned my neck to see if we had passed an accident or funeral, something that needed blessing. I saw the spires of a church receding. That’s what you do when you enter a church, you cross yourself. By making this gesture, you say: here I am. It was as if she visited the church; reached out for the church’s vibrations in the second it took for the train to pass it by. She was in several spaces simultaneously: the space of her music, the space of the commuter train, and the space of the church. The spiritual space she carried within herself, protected by the iPod that blocked out low-level noise of excited weekend travellers all around. Our electronic devices strengthen the walls of personal space, but this does not make them holy. Isolation becomes a refuge if it is connected with something outside yourself. What is holy is the communication between something within and something beyond. The train rattled by four more churches. Each time, the woman crossed herself.

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