Horns blare in symphonic cadence, but all I hear is Christmas music accompanying the light show at Saks Fifth Avenue. The constant hum of people invites us to receive. New York City is the most glamorous city I’ve ever seen.
Late Saturday evening, my husband and I arrived in New York on the last flight into LaGuardia, tucked in at the nearby Holiday Inn for a few hours, and rose early the following morning to catch a cab into New York City.
We dropped our bags at the hotel and followed the maître d’s advice for breakfast — a nearby Greek café on the corner, a few blocks South. Squeezing into our table, we rehearsed our plans in hopes the hours would allow us to fit it all in. First, we meandered through the Fall colors outlining Central Park, and then we headed to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
The memorial frames Ground Zero with a border of raised stone, and etched in the stone blocks are each of the 3000 names who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. The streams of the cavernous waterfall peacefully cascade inside the border, and somehow peace and destruction reside simultaneously here. Inside the museum, there are so many artifacts that remind me this was more real than I remember — burned and warped steel left from the aftermath, the tapes of voices announcing panic and resolution in the midst of the 9/11 pandemonium, and images. There are so many images. Thousands of New Yorkers were photographed as they stared at the unbelievable burning of the towers — their mouths gaped open in horror, some covering their heads unable to bear the sight of the catastrophe, and minutes later, some heaving to recover from breathing in clouds of ash as smoke billowed into the streets, following the towers’ collapse.
We could have stayed longer than the two hours allotted, but we had only 36 hours to spare. We hopped on the Subway, grabbed a chocolate almond croissant inside Grand Central Station and hussled to change quickly before hightailing it to Richard Rogers Theater on Broadway. We made it just in time, with two minutes to spare before “SHOWTIME” to experience the most amazing 40th birthday gift ever from my very generous brother and his wonderful wife — 2 tickets to Hamilton.
I laughed at the pomp and presumption so perfectly embodied in King George, cheered with a wide grin as George Washington triumphantly stepped down from his two terms as President, and wept a little too long as Eliza and Alexander piercingly pieced together, “It’s Quiet Uptown.”
The evening concluded with Italian dreaminess a few blocks south at Becco and a stroll along Broadway. The city was lit up for Christmas — fantastic hues of blue, purple, and white lights cascaded down Saks Fifth Avenue’s storefront, framing the windows below, each housing a scene from the fairy tale, Snow White. Behind the glass, the moving characters seemed so real that I could almost hear the “High Ho” of the Seven Dwarves and feel the Prince’s warm kiss on Snow White’s growing cold cheek. Directly behind us stood the breathtaking 75-foot Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, aglow with every color of light, moving the onlookers to stand and stare before posing for photos.
They will be doing what I am today, going back to their smartphone’s camera icon, and looking back to remember. They were there. They were in the middle of New York City at Christmas.
This trip fed my hunger for beauty.
I didn’t even realize that, in the midst of swirling from cooking to cleaning to homeschooling to writing to nurturing to planning, my heart has been aching for experiences to delight in, that are truly lovely and creative in form. As I reflect, I see how valuable it was to engage with beauty this last weekend. As essential as it is that I seek truth in God’s word, it is also imperative that I seek beauty as it plays out in the world that He created.
The longer we starve ourselves for beauty for the sake of necessity, what we call “survival,” the less of our humanity we engage. Over time, if we starve ourselves from seeking what is beautiful, our bodies become weaker to problem solve because our minds are more narrowly focused on the problem than the bigger picture. And our minds tend to spiral. When our minds weaken, our strength decreases. And lacking strength in this world of debilitating tweets and false Internet news leaves us helpless and sour.
So, here’s the question for you. Where does truth point you to seek beauty?
In nature, at a nearby landmark or during a hike at a state park?
In reading: fiction, poetry, or plays?
In fashion, lingering in your favorite store as you feel the fabrics that designers are using as they play with color and form?
In performance, enjoying the vibrancy of singing and dancing on the stage?
Finding the right food to feed our souls is a crucial part of feeding our bodies. When we make room for beauty to feed our bodies, there is actually more for us to give. Because we have opened ourselves to receive the good gifts that nurture our souls.
Hmmm…so many people might be asking you what they are asking me. And it’s a good question to ask. What do you want this Christmas?