Words by Ayisha Jackson
Dear Providence, you are beautiful. You may not be Florence, or Paris, or Vienna, but you’re beautiful all the same. On a cool fall day, I can walk with you. On this walk I’ll encounter a river. Decades ago, developers decided a waterway would make a nice addition to the cityscape, and they were right. I can turn to my left and see the sun illuminate the brownstone buildings, producing the perfect shade of red to complement the late afternoon blues and oranges of the sky. I can see one of many murals that so vibrantly ornament downtown; it’s alluring. I’m reminded that there is activity happening, there is life being lived, and there are stories being told in this city.
The view lifts me into a contemplative state; praising the beauty that lies before me, and the Creator of that beauty: the Christian God. The Creation Story shows how He works—like a potter with clay, to shape and mold the image of humankind and all living things; like a painter, in His alignment of the stars in the sky and the waves of the sea and the windswept grassy plains; like a world-builder to bring life, order, and beauty to the formless void, the chaotic nothingness, that was the universe. He’s a storyteller, and His overarching narrative is redemption. It’s expressed subtly in the individual lives of everyone who comes to know His Son. It’s expressed grandly in the entire story of history, from Creation to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to His second coming.
Cities demonstrate the goodness of an ultimate Designer who has allowed us to join Him in the bliss of creativity.
From laying down the foundations of each paved road, to carving out river systems, bus routes, institutions for education and work, to artisanal expressions of culture, cities are—by definition—completely man-made. I, believing man to be made in imago Dei—the image of God—look at the Providence skyline and see the attributes of a Creator represented through His creation, creating. On the further end of Broad Street, eighth-grade students are gathering into an after school clay studio, learning to be potters as they shape ceramic cups and bowls. In a basement nearby, a first-year art student attentively moves a paint brush across a canvas to create a starry sky, or a wave-tossed sea, or maybe even a windswept grassy plain. Tinkerers, architects, engineers, storytellers, and world-builders are all in motion, fashioning the world of a city for all who live in it. Cities demonstrate the goodness of an ultimate Designer who has allowed us to join Him in the bliss of creativity.
Dear Providence, I find you beautiful because an afternoon walk along your river lets me contemplate the very beauty and nature of God. I let the Venetian gondolas running downstream pass me by, I take a turn to cross the cobblestone bridge; I revel in a romance with creation. Your beauty is one with intention; a beauty intricately woven into the fabric of creation for any and all to discover if they should seek.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” -Romans 1:20
This is the third of CityLove’s Dear Providence series, in which members of our community share their experience of the city.
Read the series:
Ayisha was born in Georgetown, Guyana and raised in the boroughs of New York City, and was brought to Providence through school at Brown University. She felt the call to missions in her senior year after learning about the importance of service and community in the faith.