Stepping into the purple, blue, and magenta light of the Church of the Holy Rest in New York (across E. 89th & two doors north of the Guggenheim), I am surprised by this unexpected jewel.
It lives up to its name.
I want to rest. I feel prompted to take my ease, sit, be still, leave my day and be present…to rest in the quiet.
The line for the Guggenheim is too long anyway. I will take my leisure here and spend quality time with God.
There is something about the east wall that almost says “the end is HERE.” Sitting in the pew I watch, as if I’ve been transported elsewhere and am waiting for the end to come. I am expectant with dread.
Once before, I was told, “This is the place to be, there is nowhere else.” It was at Ha-kotel in Jerusalem. The words were soothing, triumphantly absolute – and true. There was nowhere else for me like that and nothing like the spiritual that took place at that spot.
Now again, I find myself with a sense of finality. I gaze forward, transfixed on an imposing stone face, almost fascist in style, even threatening in some ways. “It ends here…this is the end of the line, the terminal where the train stops.”
I would be scared if not for the beauty and tranquility that spills into the space, translucent color from the thick stained glass windows above pouring in upon the pews.
I sit here to reconcile these sensations while looking at the empty cross, seemingly held by the prayer of four reverent angels.
I am in this quiet place, distracted from my plans for the day, my art agenda at the Guggenheim. My tracks stop here at this barricade of a wall as if I am in waiting for my number to be called.
I contemplate The Judgment. I am struck by the crucifix and consider its meaning – even though there is no crucifix here. Perhaps that is what is so terrifying in this particular expression. It is past the crucifixion. The price has been paid, the human element is no longer there. Yeshua/Shepherd/King/Judge stands with His staff in His left hand, blessing with His right – but not a typical blessing gesture; this is a gesture too of beckoning. Yet the wall says “wait;” I am caught in the tension of a paradox.
The other side of the wall is the heaven of our rest, represented by a blue and red Rose Window. The blue of the heavens and red of blood (life) together optically mix to purple, a color in western culture of royalty, wealth, and position.
Stop. Consider. Hear.
The wall is foreboding. I know I am on this side of heaven.
It reminds me of the East Gate, the Mercy Gate in Jerusalem, through which the Messiah is to come into Jerusalem. He will come from the outside. Here at this east wall I sit on the inside.
This wall seems like a gate which I am to pass through but can’t, and I wait. End of the line. It is almost as if all thought ends here to consider the cross, and for me, my life in relation.
Church bells ring as I ponder this. I am going to stay here for a while. I am inclined to pray.