One of the absolute highlights of my family’s time living in America, is the 56 hours my husband and I spent on our trip to New York City. Those 56 hours included the travel time across the country, but considering it was the first time we’d flown anywhere without our kids in our kids’ lifetimes, then even the travel time was a highlight (and all the parents said ‘Amen’).
This trip to NYC was meaningful in every way: the flights had been a generous gift to us, it was one of our last adventures before leaving America, we were childless for 56 hours (oh, had I already mentioned that?), we were able to meet up with my brother and his wife who were there at the same time as us, and we were there over the fun Fourth of July holiday weekend.
I’m a Christian. I don’t believe in magic, right? Without a doubt I believe in miracles and God’s power. But if people ever ask me about New York City and what I thought of it, I feel compelled to say it is ‘magical’, simply because I can’t think of a better describing word.
I’m not a big city girl. I’m not a fan of crowds in any way, shape or form. I’m no country girl either, but I’d tend to favour smaller populated places than bigger populated places if I had to make a choice…..so my love for NYC surprised me.
You see New York City, the city that never sleeps, truly is a hive of activity. It is a diverse and bustling place for sure. The neighbourhoods of Little Italy and Chinatown are fascinating, you feel like you’ve walked across international borders as you explore these areas. The cheapskate way to see the Statue of Liberty is to catch the free ferry across to Staten Island, and from there you get to see Manhattan from a completely new angle. I could go on but this ain’t no travel blog. But the thing for me that makes New York City so stunning are the skylines. And all the things you see when you choose to look up.
You know it isn’t always convenient to look up. When you’re in unfamiliar surroundings and the sea of humanity is pressing in on you, you feel like you need to be focusing on your path, but if you don’t look up, you miss seeing the fireflies as they dance their evening waltz around the parks. If you don’t look up you miss the complex architecture and the striking contrasts every which way. If you don’t look up you don’t see how everyday people make their lives happen in apartment blocks looming high above the footpaths.
When you are in New York City you must look up, because if you don’t you’ll miss a good amount of the beauty surrounding you.
I’ve come to find that life in general can often cause you to focus on the looking around you and on the looking downwards, but we can miss out on the most precious, if we don’t look up.
Sometimes you may find yourself surrounded by voices that are too loud. Too demanding. Like the voices that form the humming on the streets of New York. Conversely, sometimes the voices you most want to hear, that you’re actually pining for, are silent. When that happens, peace can come when we choose to look up.
God, speak to me.
Sometimes when bodies jostle us and the surge of the mass of a crowd push us in a direction we don’t want to go in, like the crowd at a subway station, all desperate to get on or off in a race against time, we need to look up.
God, help me.
Give me wisdom.
Be my guide.
Sometimes what can be ordinary and mundane, is transformed when we look up. In NYC some very ordinary street fronts are taken to a completely new level when your line of sight moves up the building fronts, as you look up.
But sometimes when we’re so intent on getting our next steps right, we forget to look up. We do. But thankfully we have before us a very real promise in the bible, that when we seek God, we will find Him. In The Message version of the bible we read ‘When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else,I’ll make sure you’re not disappointed’ (Jeremiah 29: 13).
The title track on Grace Vineyard’s album ‘Seek Me’ includes the lyrics ‘you reveal your glory, to hungry hearts’. I love that and I’ve seen and experienced this countless times, and need to remind myself to come closer to God with a hungry heart, because I know it will be filled. I know it is worth it, to look up.
When we fill our lives with Holy pauses, when we fix our attention on looking up, on focusing on God, then what was hazy becomes clear.
What was confusing and complex becomes understandable and simplified.
What was clouding our perspectives is able to fade away and we are able to gain fresh insight.
When in New York City, it really pays to look up. Always look up.
When doing life, the best way to live this life, is to look up. Seeking Him, and looking up.