City Skylines (and Their Effect On Small Town Girls)

{From Bailey, Precariosities’ Director of Content}


 

Skylines. I adore them. They captivate me, and I’ve spent the better part of the past few years trying to figure out why. They’re just towers, just buildings, just bridges, just Ferris wheels, just space needles.

But have you ever looked at the way the edges of man’s tinkering just barely brush against God’s thick brushstrokes of gold, red, blue? I swear, I see the sun hitting Cincinnati (of all places) just right, and I forget how to breathe. I see the perfect reflection of Chicago, in all its glory, shimmering hazily on Lake Michigan—and I just stare. I drive into Nashville on I-65, and I whisper hello to the buildings that I know are as alive as I am, and can surely hear me. (Then I miss my exit onto I-40 so whatever.)

I’m a small-town girl. The map of my little hometown is burned into the edges of my mind. I don’t look both ways before I cross the street. The skyline consists of a bunch of brick apartments and one semi-tall courthouse. That’s all. No skyscrapers. Just bricks. I moved into a slightly larger town for college, but the skyline is pretty much the same.

So naturally, the first time Chicago flirted with my heart, I thought I was overreacting. It’s just a city, Bailey. Just a few blueprints made reality. Just the handiwork of construction guys. But then my best friends let me tag along on their trip to Nashville, and I lost a piece of my heart there, too. And then I actually made the drive to Indianapolis, rather than sulking in the back of a band bus, and I dropped another piece. Even Louisville, the first time I drove to Nashville myself, demanded my attention as I crossed over the bridge and met its eyes. And let me tell you—that city is the most arbitrary city and I hate it—but it refuses to be ignored.

Every time I see a new skyline, I decide to move there. Every time I think of a city I’m interested in living in, I Google the skyline. I’ve never been much for love at first sight, but when I get my first glimpse at a new skyline… I get it. I really do.

Even if I’ve seen it before, I’m still going to try to capture it. Silly iPhones. They never do those skylines justice. But I will try, goshdarnit. Eventually, maybe, maybe, maybe, I’ll get the positioning just right.

It’s kind of funny, really. I’ve seen the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean, the scratchy deserts of Arizona, the monstrous Alps of Switzerland. Those gorgeous doodles of God’s hand are breathtaking, no question. They all testify to the majesty of a God far greater than we can possibly fathom.

And yet. Skylines.

Those are what tear it for me.

I might have felt ashamed of that for a while. Ashamed because I couldn’t quite appreciate mountains or valleys the way it seemed I was supposed to. Ashamed because I was so captivated by the works of mortals. Ashamed because they are just ordinary buildings, for the love.

But I’m not anymore.

Who said the works of man cannot testify to the majesty of God? Why did I feel like I wasn’t allowed to appreciate His splendor in the silhouettes of skylines?

chicago-skyline-2.jpg

God is beauty. He is the soul of it, the wellspring of its life. And He has gifted all of us to perceive it differently.

I love the Alps. I do. They’re my desktop screensaver. I love the Caribbean; it is bright and lovely, bitter and salty—and it reminds me so much of life. I love the desert—because it is a dry and weary land, and even in the midst of it I tasted the Fount of Living Water.

My soul, though, will always be in love with skylines. Because I cannot express how much I adore the idea of God using simple, ordinary people to create a hodgepodge of buildings that somehow both compete with and complement the colors of a sunset. It is the work of man reaching toward the heavens with outstretched fingertips. It is the whisper of all of creation murmuring, “Come, Lord Jesus.” It is a hopelessly heavenly mixture of God’s glory and man’s God-given creativity.

So yes, I do fall in love with the juxtaposition of buildings that were created by the hands of men and the Mind of God.

But I can’t say I feel bad about that.

He’s still God. He’s still good.

He still takes my breath away, one marvelous skyline at a time.

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