Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kipper & A Club

I live in New York City, and things are always happening.  People come here from great distances and at massive expense to attend meetings that I skip because there are ten more such opportunities in a single week.  The options in New York City can become something of a crushing overload, even as the possibility of going to, say, a director's cut of Once Upon a Time in America (a film four hours long) or seeing the artifacts of Robert Scott's doomed mission to the South Pole, thrills me.  (I have done both these things, the former as a single man long ago, the latter with my kids, twice.)

It can be hard to think and process life in the midst of the pace of city life.  I do see people tune out with their iPod headphones, but it's just not for me.  It is a glorious thing to be able to pray while hurtling downtown on a subway line or walking along an avenue, but it's still doing something (in this case, something extremely valuable).

Many New Yorkers need to get out of the city occasionally in order to enjoy it.  As it happens, circumstances have kept me in the city almost straight since the end of August.   So two things today struck me as a relief from the pace.  

The first:  Kipper.

Kipper the Dog is an animated character of Mike Inkpen, who also has illustrated/written some Bible stories we have for the children.  The beauty of Kipper episodes is that nothing really happens.  He meets up with his friends, Tiger (the terrier) and Pig (the pig) and they chat, play and get up to various adventures of minimal scope.  Postman Pat is also a bit like this.  Very little action, but a lot of involvement with the characters and their pleasant meanderings. Kipper is currently Top of the Pops for our two year old, but we all sneak a peak whenever it's on.

The second:  A Club

I lead Bible studies for people who work in finance and other professional jobs.  These occur during the course of the work day, which brings a whole different slant on the issues.  I had this experience myself when working for a bank -- how different cracking open the Bible was at work rather than after work or on the weekends.  Anyway, some of the meetings happen in a posh club off Wall Street.  I typically meet up with guys to chat and pray afterwards, and today had a few minutes in between conversations.  And so I sat in a wood-panelled room with an enormous stuffed and mounted elk's head on the walls, and sank into a leather chair.  And read through Country Life magazine, which is essentially a giant advertisement section for lovely country houses and antiques in Britain, mixed in with a few articles.

Silence, except the turning of my pages, and the creaking of the leather chair.  Bliss.

I know that the heavenly city is, well, a city.  But even so, we read in Revelation 8:1 that "there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour."  And I was glad for my five minutes.

What do you think, gentle reader -- Is full throttle in NYC sustainable for the soul?  Positively good for it, or a mixture?


Ran Barton said...

If anyone can tap into the city’s energy while retaining their own counsel, I’d say it’s you, Cliff. I remember having a sense of the manifold opportunities a city offers while I lived in D.C., and attended endless Smithsonian events. Such fun.

I am envious of your time in such comfort in the club - such idylls are few and far between. I also regret not being close enough to attend your meetings, although I suspect I’m not enough of a fatcat to make the cut. ;)

Happy November!

Clifford Swartz said...

Ran -- we have a handful of guys who run the trains here in NYC (for the MTA), so you'd get on well together!
Do you guys watch Kipper -- you can stream it on Netflix...
Best regards to you and yours, Cliff