The life of this city is palpable and equally unknowable. Everywhere I look there are layers I can't see into, that I know I don't understand. Cities are overwhelming to me, with the masses of people, of humanity, of living souls that you pass in and out of and all around every single day. There is a life with eternity stamped inside that heart and years of stories lining those hands, and that is true of every enfleshed person I brush up against on just my simple walk to the market.
When I go to the mountains, I'm refreshed by all the enormous realities and comforts and wonders of God and his creation and who He is. When I come back to the city, I am quickly weighed down by the burdens of humanity.
Annie Dillard wrote a dramatic and haunting book called Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, chronicling a year in her life observing the intricacies of nature in the lands surrounding her home. It reads like a Psalm, like nature as Scripture and it reminds me how staggering and healing and horrifying being alive in and noticing the created world is. But I don't live in nature. I live in a concrete jungle with a few parks smattered here and there. The message in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is often that nature is pretty terrifying even in it's beauty. I find that to be true, perhaps even more so in the city.
But the city is where hearts beat. And every time I think I could be happier on a sunlit hill somewhere far from dirty skies and spit strewn sidewalks, somewhere far from the sadness of orphans and economic disparity and poevert, I look at the faces of all these people. A walk turns into a photo walk turns into a prayer walk. As their hearts beat, so does His for them.
And beyond all these faces of those I don't know and perhaps never can, are the living breathing neighbors right under my nose. The ones that are sometimes the hardest to love because they rub up under your skin right under your own roof, or right down the stairwell. For all the faces I can bleed for on the street, it's the ones who I actually know that need the full force of my love. But that is talk for another day.
See the city. Love the city.