At any time of year New York City is an experience that inspires the imagination, but during Christmas season it’s hard to deny the magic that is present. Magic that includes the giant tree at Rockefeller Center, crowds of people, Christmas lights, and Macy’s “Believe” campaign dressed up in sparkling red. If you read my blog post yesterday you will note that I am using the word ‘magic’, a more appropriate word for this blog post than wonder!
This weekend we celebrated an early Christmas with my son and his wife, knowing we would not be together during the actual day. We met in New York City, dressed in our prerequisite New York uniforms of black coats, leather boots, and chic scarves that spoke of a sophistication none of us claim on a daily basis.
Besides the highlights of a Christmas celebration around a large, gorgeous tree in a hotel lobby with oversize glittery ornaments, we walked for hours above the noise and chaos of the city in the High Line Park.
The High Line Park in Manhattan’s west side is a tribute to good urban planning with a heavy dose of passion. It was created out of an old freight rail line raised above the city that has long been out of use. The freight line was a historic structure and was going to be torn down. In 1999 some community members fought for this to be preserved and the idea of creating a city park that stretched along the line across Manhattan was born. Above the crowds, above the noise, above the yellow cabs characteristic of New York City, above the chaos and above the pushing and honking, is concrete green space – a tribute to urban beauty and planning.
It is free for all to enjoy. In a walk along this park you can go from midtown to the west village and find a lovely café to drink coffee or read a paper, or, in our case, eat at The Spotted Pig, a famed restaurant where the likes of Lou Reed eat and congregate. Public art is on display and captures the imagination with it’s lines and symmetry.
Benches line wider areas of the park and a unique sculpture is artistically set against a backdrop of the Empire State Building and other high rises, doubling as a bird feeder and perch for wildlife. You feel like you’re in your own world of talking, walking and viewing as you take in the urban beauty.
Walking above the noise gives a perspective that I am unable to get on the ground. It’s a perspective that includes space and perception. I can see more than a few feet in front of me, unhampered by the myriad of little things that can cloud perspective and attitude. Above the noise there is a beauty that, although still present below, is unseen.
The High Line in all its urban beauty made me pause and think about living above the noise. Fully a part of life, but not caught in the chaos. Can I live above the noise, experiencing the beauty without focusing on the bedlam and disorder that can mar beauty and peace?
For me urban beauty is so much more profound than the natural beauty you find in the country or at the ocean. Perhaps it’s that there is a sense of redemption in urban beauty that doesn’t seem as important in a rural setting, where garbage is not spilling out of bins onto street corners. In the city the smell is not of honey suckle and newly mown grass, demonstrating the character of a creator God. Instead my sensitive nose takes in a mixture of fried foods, exhaust smoke and urine. Because of those things that display a broken world it’s in the urban setting that my heart leaps as I realize that the door I just passed is a glorious contrast against the worn, red brick of the building. That above the noise is a peaceful place – that’s what High Line park is. Glorious redemption and peace in the midst of an urban machine.
Beauty is all that is glory and God is beauty embodied, glory manifested. This is what I crave: I hunger for Beauty. …Like an addiction, a compulsion that can’t stop its seeking, do I always want to see more beauty — more of the Glory of God? Because that is what I’m made for –to give Him more glory – Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
Blogger’s note: All photographs are courtesy of Cliff Gardner – photographer and tour guide par excellence!