“Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.”- G.K. Chesterson
New York is lovely.
Central Park is absolutely stunning, the architecture that I take in at the most ordinary moments of my day sometimes steals my breath. There is simply nothing to compare to the aesthetic of Manhattan. I adore it.
One of my first and favorite outings when we moved here was to Turtle Pond. Midway between the Upper West and Upper East sides, its a sweet spot to feed the ducks, let the kids roam free and take in the occasional treat from the ice cream or waffle cart. The pond is filled with turtles and the best way to view them is from one of the lookouts at Belvedere Castle, perched right above the pond.
The first time we visited, I was struck by the stone everywhere in the interior- where were the bedrooms? Why had everything been stripped so bare? I asked a gentleman at the visitor center who had lived in the castle and he told me about its history: the castle had been built for the people of New York, as a conservatory and lookout. I was floored. The castle itself is so ornate and beatiful, so thoughtful.
It became so meaningful to me to consider that others would create something so beautiful for the benefit of future generations and not just for themselves.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized Belvedere Castle is only just the beginning. Rockefellar Center, Central Park itself, and countless buildings dotting the skyline hold the same type of character. Even Grand Central Station, a place that could get by with a plain enterance to and from train and subway cars is a delight. The celing is the loveliest seafoam green with zodiac signs and stars that actually glimmer high above.
Individuals in New York’s past loved her. They built into her not just what was necessary, but something what was lasting, a loveliness that would permenantly transform the landscape of this city.
When you are surrounded everday by the lovely legacy left by those before you, it prompts you to question what exactly you yourself are building. As I build and invest in my family, I started to ask myself if I have the foresight that what I put my hands to in tending the souls of my children will impact future generations? Do I recognize that beauty and loveliness that we impart in our community can be lasting? I must tell you, that as I pondered these things I realized that my own vision was very small…and really, an awful lot about me.
What would happen if wherever we lived, in the giving of our time, our money, our resources of talents and personality, we each poured into the cities and towns and countrysides we inhabit in the same way the builders of New York did? What would happen if we raised a generation of children that saw the beauty and responsibility in bestowing loveliness to their neighbors? What if our affection for our cities and towns became so great that we sought the best for her, for years to come in the way we pour out as a family today? What if our families became the hands and feet of Jesus, bringing God’s glory to bear as he began to restore the places where we live and the people who inhabit them for his glory?
Its quite a vision for one small family. But its exactly the work God has called you to.
Our family isn’t likely build a castle for others to enjoy or a cultural center that showcases grand performances, but for however long our family calls New York home, when we leave, I want to know, want my kids to know- that we have done somthing to invest here, that our presence has in some way transformed the landscape of this city in a way that is lasting. That we are intentionally building with love and grace in this place.
That’s really what this whole blog is about. We love, and the city we love becomes even more lovely. We invest and roots begin to form. We collect feathers, one at a time until we have a handful of hope and beauty found.