The Windows of Worship

windows of worship, windows, New York city, faith blogger, christian in New York

I went to Central Park on Saturday in both celebration of the end of my 14-day quarantine and desperation for human interaction. I walked four avenues west to the park and then 15ish blocks south to where my friends and I planned to meet. 
I walked past the Met and its nearly-empty steps (but for a few girls trying to take the perfect picture). I traced the outskirts of the central park boathouse and watched a man try unsuccessfully to convince his dog to get out of the pond. I skipped out of the path of a man on a unicycle swerving precariously down the sidewalk. The world felt briefly in balance.
I met four other girls at the 68th street entrance and we smiled and sweated under our masks invisibly. We found a shady spot in the grass and did a socially-distanced workout that I’m still feeling in my legs today. 
All around us, the park teemed with runners, picnickers, readers, and first-daters, absorbed in their respective worlds of sweat, snacks, books, and bad jokes, sharing the breeze and the delight of a city slowly unlocking.
Sweaty and satisfied, I walked back to my apartment grateful to have been one six-foot circle in the pearl string of hopeful park participants.
At home, I sat on my balcony in sight of strangers. I post pictures  from this balcony ad nauseum, so you might’ve noticed how close the building is on other side of our tree-lined alley. In varying facades and colorways of rust, the windows of stacked homes stare back at me
Through them I see the shadows of movement and the glow of screens at night. I see a tomato plant long forgotten and a mask hanging to dry above the sill. 
Today, I see a girl in her underwear hanging her head out the window to (check the temperature? feel the breeze on the back of her neck? confirm that the sun rose again this morning?). And she sees me – a girl in old tennis shoes pretending not to see her in her underwear
The more I look around me, the more windows I see. Closed or open. Blinded or draped. Glowing from within or shadowed by the sun.
I see them elsewhere too. Zoom windows into the lives of my coworkers, pixelated windows into the lies of everyone on Instagram, rolled-down windows of yellow cabs through which I see delivery boys on bikes and mothers grasping the hands of bouncing children and the unremarkable masked parade of people just trying to get by.
The contrast overwhelms – our fraught need for distance against the ever-opening windows into each other’s lives. 
My home has become an office for one and yet I hear the tiny voice of my boss’s son in the background or I see the frantic tail of my colleague’s terrier behind him and these people who’ve been kept at a professional distance my entire career are suddenly so much more human, so much more real as I peek into the other dimensions of their lives.
And my neighbors’ homes – a building that’s only ever been background – now flicker on and off with the blinding lights of living. A Morse Code of togetherness. The secret language of our tree-sharing, underwear-wearing, patio-sitting, sunrise-confirming community. 
Through distance we’ve discovered connection. Through separation, an odd sense of unity. Through means of physical safety, we’ve unlocked the beautiful vulnerability of allowing others a window into our “real” lives – messy homes, dead plants, and all. 
I want more windows.
I want to see my boss as a person with needs and insecurities, a man with limitations and a sense of humor, a father of two tiny children, a son of the Most High God. Not just someone who I report to or rely on for a good performance review and a raise at the end of the year.
I want to see my neighbor as a girl who needs encouragement because we all need encouragement. Someone who’s faced the chaos of this year through the lens of her unique struggles and fears and emotional bruises differently and entirely the same as I have. Someone in search of love because we’re all in search of a greater love. Not just a weird girl in her underwear across the trees.
I want to see every other person in the park as a soul, a speck of creation, an instrument of glory by God’s careful design. Not just sun bathers and strollers. Not just a guy on a unicycle. 
I want these windows thrown open in pursuit of redemption. To approach running and picnics and reading and first dates with this expanded sense of purpose and meaning and belonging.

I want tiny voices and wagging tails to call us to worship. I want to wave at the girl in her underwear because we’re all just trying to get by.
And most of all, I want the true light of the living – love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, self-control – to shine through the shadows of darkness no matter what tomorrow brings. 
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

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