Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A City Upon a Hill

In 1630, a group of Puritans set out to found the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a community their leader hoped would be a 'city upon a hill' and an example to all the world. Today Boston is the metropolitan descendant of that ideal city and in my brief stay there I became absolutely convinced of it's virtues as the consummate 'city upon a hill'.

My first real Boston experience was walking the Freedom Trail, a very cool historical walk around Boston following a little red-brick path (red-brick is Boston's en-vogue medium). In almost every place you walk you feel a sense of duty to stop and contemplate those legendary figures who walked the same path. People like Samuel Adams, Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Boston's most dear Paul Revere. One of the highlights for me was to walk into a church and see a plaque dedicated to Charles Wesley, the lesser-known brother of John Wesley and a leading figure in the development of a distinct American hymnity, who had a been a minister for at least a short period in that very place.

Continuing the historical theme of that first day I walked through the JFK Presidential Library. It is not, as I had foolishly imagined, a large library named for the former President. Nor is it a large collection of books he liked or used or read. To my surprise I found myself thoroughly enjoying a very interactive museum chronicling everything from his campaign to his assassination. The best rooms were the ones with dinner party guest lists that had been hand-edited by the first lady. It was fascinating to see which celebrities, artists, authors, and dignitaries didn't make the cut and why. The building was pretty architecturally interesting in and of itself.

My experience Saturday was what really convinced me of Boston's virtues as the ideal city. Shelly and I started the day in the MFA...a fabulous museum with an excellent sampling of a wide variety of artistic periods. There was a special exhibit featuring El Greco, Velasquez, and other Spanish artists. The museum was crowded with people, young and old, enjoying fine art.
From the museum we walked over to the Mecca of major league ballparks. When we reached the blocks around Fenway we found hoards of people already assembling for the game. I have strong feelings about what it means to be a true sports fan, or a true fan of a team. As I was walking past the lines of Red Sox fan waiting to get into the bars, or just lining up to get into Fenway I realized I had found people who get what it means to be a fan. I don't remember seeing a single soul not sporting at least one item of clothing stamped with the Red Sox B. Not only had they shown up in their team apparel but they were there 2 HOURS before the game was supposed to start. They were all there 2 hours early for a nine-inning baseball game! It was phenomenal. To spend the day in an art museum full of refined and intelligent and cultured people and then to attend a baseball game with thousands of true sports fans was amazing to me. You would be hard-pressed to find a more well-rounded city. It has a heartbeat that compels it's citizens and visitors alike to educate and improve themselves individually but also draws people into the Boston community.
I could go on for pages about all the other fabulous sites and sounds I experienced in Boston but I feel as though I should leave it at that. Some of the other highlights pictured below include Walden Pond, the Public Gardens with the Make Way For Ducklings Statue, and Beacon Hill (my future place of residence).