By Melanie Kim '23
The water bottle people that I made are sitting in the window, with their stiff duct-taped arms pointed rigidly at 180 degrees. Sometimes in the middle of the night, I can hear them creaking against each other, and I wonder if somehow they are actually alive. I’m not afraid because I made them. It would be like Toy Story, only with much less music and happy lighting.
I can look out the window of the Omni Hotel and hear Providence finally sleeping at 2:37 AM. There are lights, always lights, and sometimes I wonder if the stars ever look down and imagine our lights to be their own constellations. At night, the dirt and the trash and the mold-lined buildings hide from view, and it’s just clean lines of skyscrapers and apartments and the glow of unevenly spaced street lights in the park across the way. My window is half dirty, and it smooths the light into soft glowing cotton balls.
I lean against the cool window, and the world is just God and me. Soaking in the beauty of this world that He created. Whispering a thankful prayer that writes itself in little puffs of condensation on the window pane.
I am reminded that God created us for enjoying His creation and His beauty in the quiet and the still.
The book of Psalms talks about making a joyful noise to the Lord, (1) shouting for joy to God, (2) and praising his name with dancing (3). In Isaiah, Zephaniah, and Zechariah, too, the verses declare, shout for joy! (4)
I’ve been learning a different kind of joy in my room, hugging the neck of my dad’s old Taylor guitar. Clinging to the E minor and the G chords, feeling the hum through my body when I strum the strings, looking up old worship songs that I haven’t heard since I was a little child in China. Songs like “The Heart of Worship” and “Open the Eyes of My Heart.” They bring me back to when I was five and we were living in Kunming in an apartment on the fourteenth floor. My bed was right against the wall with the toilet pipes, so I could hear the water whooshing down with each flush.
I remember on certain late nights, I would climb out of bed and sit on the little ledge by my window, watching the city lights and the cars streaking in blurry red as my breathing fogged up the glass. The sound of dim honking sometimes, more often the sound of humming engines or a single distant voice. The window ledge always had a little bite - just cold enough to make my feet tingle, itch for socks - but I sank into the deliciousness, knowing that my blanket would feel all the warmer later. The wonder at watching the world wind on beneath my feet, feeling in it but not of it. Quietly thankful, quietly loving life.
I wrote a letter to God on one of those late nights. Something simple and short, scrawled with drawings of a girl in a triangle dress with long eyelashes and a flower in her hair bigger than her head. Dear God, I hope you are happy. I love you soooooo much. Love, Melanie.
I asked my mom to mail it to God, and she hid it up on a high bookshelf. I found it three years later.
These days, that’s harder to grasp, and God feels a little far away, almost as though I can only see Him through a hundred layers of Saran Wrap.
I love sitting up in high spots, roofs and tall walls and fire escapes, and a few days ago I was out in the rain after a night run, watching people and occasional rats scurry by (unspecified location because I like my secret thinking places). There’s been a lot going on, a lot of prayers that feel unanswered, a lot of unresolved worries, some conflicts. But in these moments, when I am sitting still, the busy chaos of my thoughts is muted and the rain is the touch of God’s hand saying, Melanie, I am here.
These days, it doesn’t feel like there are any grand rescues, huge moments of resolution or change, but I am watching God rescue me from spiraling thoughts, watching Him lead me into quiet places of rest, and I am deliciously peaceful in His quiet joys.
Singing to God doesn’t have to be a loud, joyful outpouring. Sometimes giving thanks is just looking out at a quiet cityscape and saying, “It is beautiful.” It’s a quiet anthem of praise, letting God teach me how to pray, It is well with my soul.
If I wrote a letter now, I don’t think it would be all that different from before. Dear God, Thank you. I love you.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7 NIV).
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him” (Psalm 62:5).
(1) Psalm 100:1
(2) Psalm 66:1
(3) Psalm 149:3-4
(4) Isaiah 12:6, Zephaniah 3:14, Zechariah 9:9
This piece is part of a series asking, “Who is God? And what is He like?”
This Fall, we invite you to tell us how you understand the character, nature, and identity of God through poetry, reflections, art, or more!
Illustration by Claire Lin '23