When I close my eyes and think of New York my mind flashes through bright lights, overwhelming streets, and brash behavior. Even when a New Yorker acts within the lines, there is an undercurrent of brashness. Bold is acceptable, especially when you play by the rules. Arrogance is admirable, especially when there is something within to justify the attitude. Aggression is normal, even when there is no particular reason for its presence.
New York is, on the surface, brash, bold, and wonderful, for some. Yet when I think of those who continue to impress me, I do not remember the bold, bright, and aggressive. I find myself thinking of those working behind the scenes. They are the ones that make the city work. They are the ones who set the tone of openness and community. They are the ones inviting the uninvited to join them in the wonderful chaotic mess that is New York. They are the host that sets the tone in a restaurant that transcends the quality of extraordinary food. They are the bouncers who welcome all who qualify, seeking to find ways to include those otherwise excluded. They are the people who interact with others on the street, sharing a smile, offering a helping hand, in short making a difference. They are New York’s heart and soul.
When I think of a God defined by love, compassion, and mercy, brash is not part of the description. The God I know is not arrogant, even though there much within. The God I have experienced is not aggressive; reason drives every action. The God I know is bold, but in a subtle, heart centric kind of way. I am not the first to make this observation. One writer captured my view. “Clearly, you are a God who works behind the scenes, God of Israel, Savior God.” (Isaiah 45.15)
The pattern set by God and the heart of New York is one that you and I would do well to remember. It is in the process not the results, that we tell the true story.
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