The Lutheran shared Kathryn Tanner’s insights about life in the city with three photographers—city dwellers, all—and asked them to turn their lenses on places in their urban locales where they glimpse the Spirit on the move. Their pictures reveal signs of God’s presence, and their words tell about the grace they glimpsed.
Although most cities have their fair share of problems, our cities are far from being God-forsaken Sodoms and Gomorrahs. When you look, you’ll find ample evidence that God’s Spirit is at work.
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The Times Square subway station isn’t the safest, cleanest or friendliest place in the city, to say the least. But the Spirit, as an enforcer for humanization, is very present—you can hear it. Above the bustle of commuters and the rumble of passing trains, there is sometimes music. It’s a sound I unconsciously strain for every time I step out onto the platform.
I’ve always found subway musicians inspiring—long, still voices of creativity amid the rushing, anonymous crowd. There is something especially stirring about drummers, who set rush hour to a beat and bring the station alive with a literal pulse. I explained this assignment to one of them, and he nodded as if the subject matter was a perfect fit. Vincent spoke about trying, through his instrument, to express the universal rhythm that connects us all.
The Spirit is not only at hand in the music itself but also in the shared experience of hearing it. The strangers who stop to listen and appreciate are united, for a few minutes at least, as a like-minded audience. That human connection, however modest, is regenerative and to experience it in a place that can be so inherently alienating is profound.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers