Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Urban Retreat


The words, "retreat" and "Manhattan" are not usually found in the same sentence. Most of us, when thinking of getting away for a retreat, imagine a lakeside campground in the mountains, with cabins, camp fires and hiking trails. However, my retreat this year was spent in New York City. Monday, December 1st, I took an early morning train from Renssalaer/Albany to Manattan's Penn Station. I went there to attend Missions Door's annual Urban Church Planter's conference and reunion, which was hosted by Central Baptist Church, located at W.92 and Amsterdam Ave. I arrived at Penn Station four hours prior to the start of the conference. As I was weighing my options as to mode of transportation from W.33 to W.92 (59 blocks) I decided on the pedestrian view/shoe leather express tour of Manhattan (that's right, I walked the entire 59 blocks). I had not walked through Manhattan since 1982, and I wanted to see some of the changes I had heard so much about. besides, I had four hours to get to the conference. Indeed a a lot had changed, but the feeling I get whenever I visit the Big Apple was there once again.
There's something about NYC that humbles me, while filling me with a sense of peace.
In the city that never sleeps? With the hustling, bustling crowds of pedestrians, loud construction noises, traffic jams, etc.? Yes, walking the streets of Manhattan at 8:00 in the morning, taking in the view of Times Square, the Empire State building, the many, many skyscrapers, etc, along with the blend of NYC aromas from bakeries, coffee chops, sidewalk vending carts, cigars, corner flower shops, etc., leaves me with a peaceful, easy feeling. I'm a city boy through and through. What can I say? I like the idea of being around a sea of nameless faces; one pedestrian amongst a crowd of unknown proportions. There's a rythm that flows, as people walk the streets of Manhattan. I found that rythm, once again, as I exited Penn Station, and strolled leisurely along 8th Street, to Broadway, then to Amsterdam Ave, until I arrived at W. 92nd St. I made a few stops along the way as all of my senses were engaged.