Friday, July 1, 2011

Redeemed Spaces: Lessons from High Line Park


A few weeks ago, I walked the entire length of New York City's High Line Park with my great friend Josh Barton. Built on an abandoned elevated rail line, the park is a beautiful picture of redeemed spaces. Robert Hammond explains the history and vision for the park in the TED talk below.



I love that instead of seeing an eyesore and something to be torn down, Robert saw a beautiful and unique park that benefited his New York community. Some lessons I'm still pondering from my walk in High Line:

See both the present and the potential. This isn't a glass-half-empty versus glass-half-full mindset; this is having the vision of a completely transformed glass of water. I love what Jesus tells Peter in John 1:42: "You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas." He's essentially saying, "I know who you are now. I also know who you will become as you follow me." He doesn't gloss over the present reality--Simon is an uneducated fisherman. He simply sees that reality in light of a new future, where Simon Peter is preaching at Pentecost and thousands choose to follow Christ.

Creativity requires hard work. Robert had to fight legal battles for years, go to community meetings, and raise tons of support and finances for High Line to become a reality. I recall reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird on the discipline of writing, that one must put in the hard work of writing every day, every single day, whether it's good or not, because writing takes hard work and time and effort to become truly good. Sometimes creative ideas come all at once and sudden, like a gust of wind. But even those usually require a lot of discipline, time, money, and emotion to see that idea come to life. True creatives are rarely lazy.

Life is better when lived with others. I love Robert's brief final story, that New Yorkers are holding hands as they walk through High Line. The park itself was a beautiful gift that day in the city, but to be honest, the enriching conversation I had with my friend as we walked through the park was the true blessing. Friends are important. That sounds idiotically simple, but it's especially easy in ministry--and as one grows older, has kids, etc.--to find oneself with an increasingly smaller set of truly great friendships if one does not take the time and intentionality to seek out and foster those friendships. Who are your best friends, and when was the last time you had a genuinely deep conversation with them?

Have you ever been to High Line Park? What other lessons can you glean from its story?

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