Friday, August 23, 2013

A Sanctuary in NYC

Before we moved to NYC two years ago, my friend, Margie, asked, "Where do you think you'll find a sanctuary?"  She knew how much I value and need quiet time in nature.  When we lived in Juneau, Alaska, it was Margie who introduced me to being in nature, not just appreciating it from a distance. And there was plenty to appreciate!  All I had to do was look out our living room window to see the  top of the Mendenhall Glacier ringed by snow-covered mountains.

Margie invited me to walk trails, hike mountains, cross country ski across frozen lakes, dangle my feet in glacial waters and to notice. Where I might plow ahead, Margie would often stop to admire the delicate shape of a Sitka rose petal or the raspberry brilliance of fireweed.

She is, after all, an artist.
(Margie Beedle's field of fireweed, July 2013)

It was in Alaska that I began to learn how to be, to simply be, in Nature's presence and to receive what She knows I need.  To breathe. . . and know that I am breathing.

I had no immediate answer to Margie's question; but in the two years since, I have searched and found a few of, what are for me, nature's sanctuaries.
The depth and breath of the NY Botanical Gardens
The windswept grass at the Irish Hunger Memorial
City Hall Park early on Sunday morning, where quiet reveals birdsong
Under a tree, atop a boulder, on a bench in Shakespeare's Garden - all in Central Park

Then this week I re-discovered a garden, almost hidden if you don't know where to look, off  Hudson Street (#487) in Greenwich Village.  Another friend, Nola, showed it to me over a year ago, but I had surprisingly forgotten about it.  Busy checking the GPS on my phone to locate Magnolia Bakery somewhere close by, I looked up and there was the entrance.

A red brick wall, a black wrought iron fence, an unassuming, rather narrow opening -- inside, a sanctuary, the sign even declares it so.

The Gardens of St. Luke's in the Fields.  I like to imagine that the church was once surrounded by acres and acres of waving grasses, long before the city caught up with it, which could be the truth.  It was built in 1821 and the gardens' "first verifiable planting in 1842; a tiny slip taken from England's Glastonbury thorn."

As I walked in, the decibel level from the traffic dropped dramatically.  I could have been in Elizabeth Bennet's backyard (Pride and Prejudice), or the wealthier Mr. Darcy's, more likely, owing to the Gardens' size and graceful elegance.  I wove my way along the path absorbing the lush greens and dazzling colors.

Other visitors were quietly talking, reading, pushing a stroller back and forth as a baby slept, sipping a Starbucks, or just resting.

                      I found a quiet corner bench, sat down,
              and breathed.


  1. As Saturday began to bustle in Cheyenne your post reminded me to let it all flow. No cell phones in NY City in that special little place. Amazing.

  2. It really is special, and I find myself needing these kinds of places more often. Knowing it's there is comforting. :-)


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