I was lucky – and honored – to attend some meetings at the United Nations this week, a place I’d never visited despite hundreds of trips to New York and a deeply idealistic temperament.
Like many sacred places these days, its importance is reinforced by intense security measures. No food, no bottles, no backpacks, nothing sharper than a pen. Multiple screenings, ID’s with barcodes, supervisors who scold if you take a wrong turn or, heaven forbid, move a chair. We met in an underground, windowless conference room. The operational anxiety seemed designed at every turn to compete with the glorious mission of the organization: peace.
Our meetings were terrific, deep and important and soulful and human, and this was heavy too (though in a good way). Between the content and the setting, by day two I was exhausted and a little overwhelmed. I’d heard there was “some neat art” and so during our coffee break (no coffee allowed in the meeting rooms), I wandered back up to the main lobby.
I turned down a hall that seemed to lead nowhere, and stopped in my tracks. There was Chagall’s blue angel, shining forth, taking my breath away.
Friends, we all have parts of our lives that appear to be dreary conference rooms. We all have the anxious equivalent of security conveyor belts, rolling round and round. We also all have a glorious blue angel. Maybe she’s forgotten in a corner, maybe you’re not sure how to get to her, maybe it’s a cloudy day and she’s not blazing so brightly. But she’s there.
This week, when the lists of noble and important things to do are never-ending, and the powerpoints of vital and thoughtful initiatives are blurring before our eyes, and the awesome productive bureaucracy of human-ness feels heavy, let’s talk a little walk.
Let’s find our blue angels.
*** You can learn more about the Peace Window here, and about the essential role of Muir Woods in the early formation of the UN here.