No matter how much the Downtown Crossing T station in Boston is cleaned, it’s always dirty. A dirty bandaid that fell from a wound; a cigarette butt still sending up smoke, evidence of being recently tossed on the ground to avoid the penalty of breaking the strictly enforced ban on smoking; a banana peel, missed by the cleaning crew – no matter how much bleach, time and energy is used, there is always residual dirt. It never looks clean.
Today as I walked up the stairs to Washington Street this reality hit me. There will never be enough soap, bleach or paint to get this station clean. There are too many crowds, too much traffic, too much raw humanity.
Yet despite this, cleaning crews in the morning and evening continue to work their mops and buckets down stairs and on platforms. Thankless jobs in a thankless station that can never be clean.
And that is how I sometimes feel. I feel Downtown Crossing dirty. I feel the weight of my sin and brokenness. I feel the power of defeat and doubt. Like dirty bandaids and old garbage these things clog my soul, waiting for a clean-up crew to come and try to make it clean.
But stopping in the tunnel of Downtown Crossing I hear this amazing melody of grace. It’s an old hymn that is often heard amidst expensively coiffed and well-dressed people so I shake my head to try to take in the incongruity of this hymn with my surroundings. Am I imagining this?
But it’s unmistakable!
Here in the midst of Downtown Crossing dirty is the melody to “How Great Thou Art”. The sounds resonate in this echo chamber, beautifully played on a violin by a man whose clothes won’t make it to the well-dressed category. The words flow through my mind as the music swells, unwilling to be drowned out by the noise of an incoming train.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee – How Great Thou Art, How Great Thou Art.
Suddenly none of the dirt matters. All that matters is this sound, this reminder of a God who is as present in the diversity and dirt of humanity in Downtown Crossing as he is among the beautiful and clean. A God who restores and makes all things new.
My soul is lost in this melody of grace, a melody of grace made for places and moments like these. A melody made for Downtown Crossing dirty.