This article appeared in the January 04, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Opening the gate

Kevin Hagen/AP
Visitors look over the newly completed Moynihan Train Hall on Jan. 1, 2021, in New York. The new 255,000-square-foot station is named after U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat who championed the project and died in 2003.

Here’s a tale of two occasions and a memory, all of them carriers of light.

Last week, I joined a small neighborhood gathering around a roaring fire pit to open the door to 2021. I also enthusiastically took note of the grand opening of the Moynihan Train Hall, a bright new portal to the Big Apple that uplifts Penn Station, a dingy underground warren with few fans.

One occasion was modest, one grandiose. But both spoke to passages, of willingness to open doors and welcome new experiences. And both reminded me of a long-ago visit with a family friend, a newly retired – and very philosophical – master gardener. As I admired the gate that led to his vibrant flower beds, he pushed it open and turned to me.

“What does a gate represent,” he asked, “but an opportunity?” 

That’s a word I’ve heard more frequently as the calendar flips to a new year. It’s frequently invoked with a sobriety born of 2020’s profound and ongoing challenges. But just as often, it comes with a sense, however modest, of openness, even light, as people reconsider long-standing assumptions.

Indeed, “Let there be light” was The New York Times headline for its train hall story. That spoke literally to the soaring, sun- and art-filled space, a bright spot in a dark year. But it also celebrated hard-won vision and the power of beckoning gates. As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, Moynihan Train Hall “promises renewal and rebirth ... and points to the opportunity ahead.”

This article appeared in the January 04, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 01/04 edition
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