Today I am delighted to introduce my daughter Stefanie as a regular contributor to Communicating Across Boundaries. I think you’ll love her photography and perspective on life. As I write this she is heading back to New York City where she goes to college.
Four years ago I visited New York City for the first time. Even though I lived in the Northeast for the majority of my life, I had somehow missed visiting New York City. After a college visit outside the city, my dad surprised me by driving us into Manhattan where we spent the rest of our day. I remember being in awe of the skyscrapers, big lights, and hundreds of people. I remember thinking that it was the greatest city I’d ever been to.
In the evening, we ventured up to the top of the Empire State Building and gazed at the tiny buildings below with their twinkling lights shining in the darkness. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the Empire State Building as we drove out of the city. It brought some sort of magic into my life that I couldn’t quite shake off.
A few years later, I moved to New York City for college and the glamour of it all ran out quickly.
At the end of the year, I was tired and ready to return to my stomping grounds at home. But before school ended, I returned to the top of the Empire State Building and the city once again pulled on my heart-strings. The same magic that had entranced me years before came rushing back and I once again remembered why I loved this crazy city.
Often I need to remove myself from my daily routine and experience a breathtaking moment to remain sane. It’s important to remember why I am where I am because it is incredibly easy to forget the beauty of it all.
How about you? When have you had to remove yourself from daily routine to renew your vision and passion?
We were walking back from a bookstore in NYC where the motto is “18 miles of books” when our daughter said “I have something special to show you! It’s less than a block from here.” We had already walked over 45 city blocks on this crisp day after Thanksgiving – what was a half block out of our way?
We took a right on 29th Street just off 5th Avenue and immediately knew this was something special. A beautiful little church sat there – away from crowds and chaos, beautiful and hallowed. We walked into a small sanctuary with old benches facing the cross and altar and beautiful windows and woodwork carvings all around, but there was more. Walking up to the front and taking a sharp left we found ourselves in a tiny chapel, set apart and empty. A prayer kneeler stood at the front with the Book of Common Prayer lying open. Stained glass windows reflected the light offering a glimpse of another world.
It was perfect. As close to perfect as we can find in this world.
Someone had told our daughter about it – said that it was the ideal place to come to sort out thoughts and ask for peace when the city feels too overwhelming, too distracting, too much. She was right.
It was difficult to remember that the Empire State Building was a block away, that millions of people lived and worked steps from this place, that here in this massive chaos that is New York City there is a place of such visible peace.
When life feels too overwhelming, too distracting, too much — it’s important to know where to go to sort it all out. When we need to catch a vision and live life above the noise and beyond the crowds, when we need a “slipping away in a boat on the Galilee” moment, where do we go? Can we find a place that offers respite and quiet? A sanctuary where we can hear God?
This is what I long for this season – to find places of quiet that remind me of what Advent is and how I am called to live. A little church around the corner to offer a glimpse of another world. A place and space set apart offering me the eternal even as the temporal calls so insistently.
Today and through this season, may you find your little church around the corner, your space and place of peace that offers you rest and comfort — an invitation to set aside what seems urgent and spend time on what is it important.