I am large, I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”
Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
In the summer of 2014 I was in New York City twice. The first time was with our church youth group for a seminar on poverty and hunger sponsored by the United Methodist Women. One of the pastors who accompanied our group from Minnesota had gone to seminary in New York so knew the city well. Later that summer, my wife, Julie, our daughter Sarah, and I returned to the city as visitors.
I was quite taken by the city. I was exhilarated by the activity, the people, the energy. Waiting in lines we could hear people from all over the world who were also there to see the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller Center. I loved walking over the Brooklyn Bridge with my family.
This past summer, our family traveled west on vacation. Being in Yellowstone National Park, seeing the Rocky Mountains, standing on the quiet prairie in Theodore Roosevelt, were all awe-inspiring. When traveling through the plains, I cannot help but think of the people who roamed there so freely until clashes with the European-Americans of the expanding United States led to their being confined to reservations. It is almost as if there are “voices” in the silent winds of the prairies.
I know people for whom New York City would be their greatest nightmare. They like wide open spaces, or the quiet of the forest, or the pace of small towns. I know others who would find the quiet of the prairies maddening. I feel wonderfully fortunate that I find beauty and grace in such diverse places. Beauty and grace can be found in the multiple faces on the streets of New York, in the wonderfully diverse voices heard, in the human energy generated in the city. Beauty and grace can be found in majestic mountain views, in the silent whispers of the prairies.
The least I can do is try to be there, wherever the “there” is. When I am so present, I contain multitudes, and am grateful for that wonderful flow of beauty and grace.
With Faith and With Feathers,