The Statue of Liberty

On New Year’s Day1978, as part of our guided tour of the United States, we flew into New York.

My first impression of New York was one of greyness.
Looking up to the grey buildings stretching to the grey sky
made me think of concrete canyons. Cold too… the first real cold we had felt since leaving Australia. The heat from the air-conditioning when we opened the door of our motel room almost singed our eyebrows! My roommate Pat remarked “There must be barbequed Australians on the menu tonight!”

Our first day in New York was a free day so we decided to do the city on foot. We soon discovered that the green streetlights saying WALK should say RUN, as that was what we had to do to get across before they changed. With battered yellow taxis intent on running us down, crossing the street proved to be a hazardous undertaking. Their dented bumper bars proof of successful encounters, we took as our slogan “Be quick or you’re dead!”

A welcome change to the concrete vista was Central Park in her white winter dress. People were skating in the park; others, their cheeks pink with the cold, were taking buggy rides. Vivid spots of colour were the flags fluttering outside some of the buildings.

It had been a unanimous decision to visit the Statue of Liberty.

Waiting for the ferry to take us to Ellis Island we stood shivering, looking across the water to the tiny figure in the distance. I was remembering a day forty years before when our headmaster Mr Northcott, a painter with words, had transported me to this very place. A twelve-year-old, I had hung on his every word… not dreaming that I would ever be in a position to see it for myself!

Hoping to get a good view from the upper deck, we headed for the stairs as soon as the ferry berthed. Looking back at the city skyline I was struck again with the greyness all around us. Buildings, sky, water; all clothed in varying shades of grey.

Twin Towers

Tiring of the dismal scene I turned and looked at the Statue.

The Statue of Liberty
By Beryl Bowden 1980
Face upturned,
I felt, not saw, the love
That from the Statue flowed.
My cheeks glowed
With answering warmth,
Whilst down my face
Ran tears of joy.
A state of perfect Grace
Was mine.
Her arm upraised to bless
In gesture tender, a caress
Of pure compassion.
Heart stilled, a calmness on me fell
As I had never known.
I bowed my head
The better to receive
The benediction offered me
So far from home.
And found myself at peace.

Seeing the Statue of Liberty was, for me, a spiritual experience.
As I stood and gazed, a sense of unreality enveloped me. I found it difficult to reconcile myself with who I was; where I was. I thought of the things I had seen; San Francisco, New York, Niagara Falls, places that had only been names before but now meant much, much more. Oblivious to the cold, I stayed on deck long after the others had gone below.

life 1

Like those very early migrants who came to these shores seeking shelter; I felt warmed, comforted, blessed. Any worries and concerns disappeared; replaced by a sense of wellbeing that remained with me for the rest of my journey.

4 Comments on “The Statue of Liberty”

  1. Beryl Bowden October 9, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

    Thanks Mick, it certainly was special for me. Glad you liked it. Beryl;

  2. Annabelle Lewis October 9, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    Always a delight to read your stories Beryl.

    • Beryl Bowden October 20, 2014 at 9:40 am #

      Nice to hear from you Annabelle with your positive comments.

  3. Mick Collins October 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    Beryl, you don’t do a bad job of “Painting with words” yourself. Lovely little story as usual.
    Mick Collins

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