Sunday, May 15, 2011

Holy NYC Sunday

Faces of the missing
Matthew remembers being scared of airplanes after seeing the attacks on TV at only 2 years old
Grief needs no other words

Joshie reading cards left behind by visitors
Lighting a candle in St. Paul's Chapel
I loved the saying on the poster behind this adorned mannequin...St. Paul's Chapel is an oasis of heaven in the midst of Hell.
St. Patrick's Cathedral

It was not necessarily planned this way, but today turned into quite a holy experience for us all.  The day started off with a drizzle and laying abed late as I tried to kick the ache and fever.  With it being our last full day in NYC, I wasn't about to waste it, so after awhile we got going, heading to the Ground Zero Museum first.

Sometimes we forget that a place doesn't have to be a church or cathedral to be a holy place.  This Museum tucked in a storefront along Liberty Avenue is definitely holy.  There, the story of September 11th is told in a variety of ways, all of which are touching.  There was a movie about the Twin Towers pre-9/11 and I found myself drawn in as I learned something I never before understood...the World Trade Center was a community...a neighborhood.  It was not just an office building people went to  every day, it was an extension of their home neighborhood.  Not being from a big city myself, I had never known that this was a gathering place of sorts, in addition to working in these structures, people would get their haircut, eat lunch there, go shopping at the same stores every day.  I never realized that the WTC was anything more than mere offices.  Upon learning this, it made a great impact on me, for some unknown reason.  As if the deaths weren't enough...and entire neighborhood had been obliterated.  I don't know, maybe it somehow personalized it a bit more for me.

The kids  all found it very interesting, and with the news of Osama Bin Laden's death a couple weeks ago, this all took on greater meaning.  We explained that the events of that day forever altered the world they would grow up in, and we talked about the ways in which that was true.

Tears threatened more than once as the faces of so many stared back from posters and photos, and items that had been shared with the museum each had a story of their own that was quite poignant.  Dictionaries in many languages that were brought out, a burned credit card from a loving husband never found, mementos that have great meaning and lend a sense of the human connection to an event that heretofore was just an act recorded on TV.  

From the WTC Museum we ventured one block to St. Paul's Chapel, which served as a beacon of hope and a harbor during the dark days post 9/11.  Rescue and recovery workers were provided cot space there along the walls of the chapel, and permanent exhibits that detail the missionary work the Chapel suddenly found itself smack dab in the middle of during that period.  The ministry was profound, I can't begin to imagine the emotions, the heartbreak, the need for encouragement that so many must have turned to this little chapel to find.  This place, where George Washington's pew is still present also recognized the mission field that was literally right outside it's door, and sleeping on it's floors for many a night.  When we visited this afternoon, we were greeted first by the stone grave markers, 250 years old and beginning the slow work of eroding.  Entering the chapel, which was quite busy, the great pipe organ was playing and it had the feel of an odd cross between a museum, a place of worship, and a community center.  Very unusual indeed.

From there I had wanted to see St. Patrick's Cathedral before we left NYC, and I wanted the kids to see the difference between a chapel and a cathedral, so off we went, dragging slowly as we are all quite tired now.  The outside was being renovated so it was impossible to take decent photos as scaffolding surrounded the building.  Inside, we discovered they were mid-mass, which happened to be in Spanish for the afternoon service.  The kids were quite surprised by the enormity and beauty of the cathedral, and we all found a pew to sit in and enjoy a little of the service.  We heard beautiful vocalists singing in Spanish, and sat there surrounded by art the likes of which none of the kids had ever seen before.  Sadly, I was not able to take more than one or two photos due to the service, and we were all tired and needed to get back to the hotel to rest.  However, I did get the chance to light a candle there myself, giving thanks and praise for an answered prayer uttered in my heart in the doorway of this church 4 years ago, when I visited NYC with friends.  We didn't really go in, just stood there for a quick look, and I remember praying that somehow our daughters would find their way home to us.  What a feeling to return, never imagining I would, and to be able to light a candle with gratitude in my heart.

hahaha!  They enjoyed it, but said they didn't think it was the big deal people made it out to be.  Everyone has complained about the overpriced gift shop items, saying that most of the stuff is not well made and is too expensive...which honestly I am glad to see they have an discerning eye and have bought very little trinkety stuff.  They liked having public transportation and could now see why so many New Yorkers don't own a car. The Statue of Liberty was a big hit with all, as was...of course...the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum.  Hey, what can I say...they had shrunken heads and a matchstick can anything compete with that?? Hahaha!!  Everyone said that New Yorkers were far more helpful and friendly than they anticipated, and we agree 100% with that.  Times Square fascinated everyone, the people and sights were too much to keep up with and you could spend hours down there just watching.

So...there you have it...8 or so posts in one evening.  Sorry for the large number, but at least I could get photos up and share a little of what has been happening on our trip.  Tomorrow it is off to DC.  I hope to be feeling better, as the fever has returned this evening and I am pretty uncomfortable at the moment, but will keep on going :-)  Too much to see and do not to!  Tomorrow, on to Washington, DC.  Josh's favorite part of the trip is coming up...he desperately wants to see the Lincoln Memorial.  Angela wants to see anything with Amelia Aerhart, and Kenny and Olesya want the Portrait Gallery.  Matthew has already been in 7th heaven with the Intrepid, but we have more with the Air and Space museum at the Smithsonian.  So, I had better get off this thing and get some sleep as we get up early tomorrow.  Night all!


Lenore said...

I'm having so much fun "gobbling up" your blog entries!! LOVE, love, love all of the pictures, and of course all of the journaling that goes along with them!! What an awesome time you're having, and it's so good to see all of the kids really having the time of their lives! The only place I'm surprised you didn't visit in NYC (unless you did and I just missed it!!), is Ellis Island! Figured you would definitely go there, as it too would hold special meaning for the LaJoy family!! I know you can't do everything, and that picking and choosing is difficult!! Soooo looking forward to seeing and hearing about D.C. through the LaJoy Seven!!!

Shannon said...

WOW - I've never been to NYC and I feel like I'm living it now with the LaJoys, who, by the way, must be the most fun group in the world to travel with!! Hope you continue to feel better and I can't wait to follow along with the rest of your trip!

Trisha and Jim said...

Such diverse activities, so happy to see all the kids really enjoying everything. They are all so precious; the smiles, the serious studying of art, and the wonder/nervousness of protests. Seems like they will be talking about this trip for a long time. Always say no to snakes!

Anonymous said...

We wondered where you would worship. Sounds like a perfect place, in many ways. Missed you at Hillcrest yesterday but warm thoughts of all the adventures you are having. Feel better soon!

Mr Steve and Ms Jane