I had the best walk after Mass today. I set off across Union Square and headed down Broadway—there was a breeze, there was ample sunshine, there were wide sidewalks and fairly few people for it being such a perfect City day. It was great to feel so free, so relaxed and right with the world, taking an amble without intention and loving the doing of it.
I passed a “vest pocket” flea market converted from a small empty lot. I saw vendors of items from Jamaica, Africa, and places unknown, lost tourists, a guy conducting business in an entirely black outfit save one skinny white tie, and a kid with a tee-shirt proclaiming “I’m a keeper!” There was the usual assortment of boutiques and shops filled with someone’s dictation regarding modern fashion, a couple of places to grab a bite to eat, and one or two empty storefronts.
On my return toward Union Square, in want of a brief rest, I found the welcome of Grace Episcopal to be just what I needed—in more ways than one. While there I said a prayer of gratitude to R. G. Remisen, whoever she or he might have been. It was for that person that the pew I selected was named. At one point in time, the letters in the nameplate were raised but by the time I sought respite in his or her aisle, it was nearly smooth, edges softened and round. The plate is affixed to a pew-high door that opened to allow passage into the bench.
New to me, I found that this “compartment” approach to seating suited my state of being quite comfortably. It was in some way a welcoming demarcation of space—something that said without pretense or expectation, “Come. Take off your bag. Rest here without worry. Look for what you need. You are home here and will find it.”
The windows were tremendous. I am not able to recall what they depicted—only that they were filled, filled, filled with light and colors and that they were a magnificent contrast to the low-light and dark wood. The carvings on the pillars were graceful and simple.
The whole experience called to mind an un-attributed quotation used once by a friend–—“Center down,” cried the Quaker saints, “Center down.”
For me that is one of the gifts of sacred spaces of all kinds— a church, a friend’s couch, a prayer corner…—The gift of inviting to simultaneously ground ourselves enough and let go enough to feel the pull of the wonder and needs of our world, and our own lives, and the call of a creative, faithful, loving, God to engage, to live, to listen, to do, to appreciate, to challenge, to actively be.