June 29, 2009
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of God’s calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Ephesians 1:18, 19
This 4th of July will be a bigger deal than usual in the New York/New Jersey area. That’s because the crown of the Statue of Liberty will re-open for the first time since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
But there are a few things you need to be aware of if you’d like to visit it during the next two years, before the statue is closed another two years for safety and security renovations. You must purchase tickets ahead of time (up to a year in advance) through the ferry company that transports visitors to the statue and Ellis Island. Security similar to that at airports greets you even before you board the ferry, then you’ll have to endure a second checkpoint on Liberty Island. Be prepared to wait on looong lines.
Once inside, you’ll join a group of 10 to ascend to the crown guided by a park ranger (three trips are planned each hour, for a total of 24 trips a day). The climb is via a narrow 168-step double-helix spiral staircase that can make you dizzy going down—Mimi willingly climbed up when she was a youngster, but got so freaked out on the descent that Joe had to carry her.
And let me tell you, it is hot in there, especially in the summer. Several years ago I took my niece and nephew, both pre-teens at the time, and they handled the heat and the crowds pretty well until we got to the stuffy interior near the stairs. “Aunt Penny,” they said, “we don’t want to do this anymore.” “Too bad,” I replied, gesturing to all the people behind us. “You’re stuck!”
They ended up enjoying the experience after all, and I hope I haven’t dampened your enthusiasm for visiting by my cautions either. It’s an experience I recommend to everyone.
Which brings me to my most recent visit to Lady Liberty, last year, accompanied by a friend who is a naturalized citizen. It was interesting to see it from her perspective as an immigrant and a first-time sightseer, and catch up on a few things I’d forgotten. The statue’s official title is “Liberty Enlightening the World,” and the torch she holds signifies light shining on the path to freedom. Wrapped around her feet, which are portrayed in mid-step, is a broken chain, representing both forward movement and a shaking off of oppression and servitude.
God promises what a statue—or any other manmade work—can only symbolize: real enlightenment, real hope, real power, and real freedom. It’s only in Him that we can “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles [and] run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Have fun celebrating Independence Day, but don’t forget to thank the One who makes it truly possible.