The city has a way of reminding me that the world is not as it should be. There is more dirt and grime, the homeless are ever-present, the blind with service dogs walk beside those who, with canes, are limping their way through life, and the general atmosphere is one of chaos. You can’t escape life and all that it encompasses. It’s my daily reality check – for no matter how I’m feeling and what the condition of my life, there is always someone who is having a much harder time
No matter how much frosting you put on the city, through Longchamps totebags and designer suits, the broken are still there. But that’s why I love the city. It reminds me of me. I can “clean up” real well, but even as I clean up, I’m aware of my insecurities and flaws, those things that are broken and can hurt others. My eyes, sometimes blind to needs around me; my feet sometimes limping toward a goal instead of running; and the dirt and grime of some of my thoughts and actions.
This weekend, in the midst of decorating a large open space for the wedding of my niece, I began talking to a friend. We were surveying the overall look of the room, once the linen tablecloths, flowers, and candles were in place. Once that was all in place, the ugly didn’t matter. The ugly was part of the overall picture but not the focus. Someone had told my friend that when you make a quilt, you need a color that is ‘ugly’. While by itself the color is not something you would ever choose, once it’s put into the mosaic of the quilt, it fits together perfectly. At that point no one would call the fabric ugly – it’s a pattern of beauty. The total package of the city is the same – while the separate parts are a reminder that life is not as it should be, the whole is a picture of beauty and opportunity. A beautiful, though broken, space and the opportunity to reflect love and grace in the midst of it.
Here are glimpses of my everyday world in the city. Even as I daily see things that make me cry – a teenage girl sobbing into her cell phone at 7am, unable to stop because she is in pain; a man sleeping, curled up in a doorway with a bottle of Listerine beside him; another angry at all of life shouting at anyone who passes with language that describes his life, I also see glimpses of beauty and redemption around every corner.