They were everywhere! Yellow taxis weaving through traffic, horns honking, collisions seemingly inches away–yet avoided. Quite a change from Dinkel Island where the only yellow car in town is an aging VW Beetle driven by an old guy with a sign on the door that says Pest Annihilator.
This was in New York City last Friday afternoon. My wife Sharon, and I had just arrived at Penn Station. We’d been directed to an escalator that thrust us outside amidst crowds at a taxi stand. Soon one of those cabs delivered us safely to our hotel at Ground Zero. We were in New York for Tate Publishing’s Premier Authors’ Conference and Book Tour.
Tall buildings, streets filled with cars, trucks, and pedestrians all scrambling to maneuver made me think of the contrast to my fictional town of Dinkel Island that is the setting for my novels. I wonder how people keep from losing themselves in this packed and bustling world? I thought. We soon got settled and tasked with “fitting into” this scene of hustle and bustle. We walked ten blocks to Battery Park where our meals and sessions were held at Pier A. We were right on the Hudson River at the docks with the Statue of Liberty visible in the distance. Suddenly things didn’t seem so packed and busy.
After a delicious supper and evening session we went to a Manhattan coffee shop to meet people and sign books. The next morning we started our day back at Pier A with a hearty breakfast and more resource speakers. Then we went to a library for another book signing. A tour of the Fox News studios and a session about author interviews was followed by a dinner cruise around Lady Liberty–a rich opportunity for fifteen authors to consult with Tate executives and resource persons.
We learned in depth about the worlds of publishing, film making, and media resourcing. Perhaps the greatest impact came from staying right at the site of the twin towers that were destroyed on September 11, 2001. Walking around the fountains where those buildings once stood, reading the names of people who lost their lives there, was powerful. So was looking out our hotel window at the magnificent Memorial Building that now stands with a museum to honor those who died there. More buildings are under construction. The message is clear: We stand for freedom and we are resilient.
When we returned to Penn Station Sunday for our return home, this world of massive people, movement, and “yellow taxis” didn’t seem so strange or foreign. A bridge had been formed in our spirits between this world and the world of small places like Dinkel Island. We keep our individuality and enhance our lives in both worlds by the way we keep our values straight, our faith strong, and our energies positively directed. That’s what raised a magnificent tower at the site of unthinkable destruction and ruin. Evil does not have the last word!
I believe the Memorial Tower sends a visible, positive message to a world that wants to divide and conquer people. It’s a message much like the familiar words, penned by Emma Lazarus, that grace the pedestal of Lady Liberty. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to be free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Great cities, small towns, rural farmland, busy factories, crowded shopping malls, quaint stores–these form the fabric of our diverse lives. We have our disagreements and differences, but at the center is our faith in God and each other. We are diverse and yet united. We are America! We are free! We are strong!