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’re here where it all happens! The heart of Manhattan and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It is a bucket list idea come true as we squeeze in tight with people we don’t know and strain our heads to see the parade. It is so fun … We’re talking to total strangers, screaming at celebrities, and shouting at floats! Awesome!
Many of you who read Communicating Across Boundaries are not from the United States so let me explain what the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is. For 86 years, in the heart of New York City, the Macy’s store has sponsored a huge parade complete with amazing floats, musical performances, dance, and marching bands. This is considered the beginning, the “kick-off” to use an idiom, of the holiday season. Over 3 million people gather in New York (yes, that would be us this year!) and over 50 million watch the parade on television, safe and warm in their homes while sipping eggnog….theoretically at least.
Growing up overseas, I knew only peripherally about the parade but now that we spend Thanksgivings in the United States it has become a fun and favored family tradition to watch it on television while turkey bastes in the oven. We are not football people (another peculiar American event) but we sure love the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
We arrived last night, surviving the day-before-Thanksgiving traffic that tries the patience of the most patient among us. A breakdown of our car in the parking lot of a grocery store in the morning had us anxious that we wouldn’t be able to follow through with these well-made and anticipated plans, but with the aid of our amazing Chinese mechanic, the trusty PT Cruiser pulled through. My daughter Stefanie’s apartment is the perfect location – 3rd floor of the Herald Towers so we have only steps to walk to see the action.
As I watch I bring you these photos live from the parade! Enjoy and wherever you are – may you know the amazing miracle of thanks and the satisfaction of a grateful heart.
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.
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!