Thoughts on the Stairs

As we drove down 10th street after church last Sunday, my children joyfully exclaimed when they saw this spiral staircase suspended between two buildings. I suppose they may have thought – on a passing first impression – that it was magically levitating like some long-lost architectural element from Hogwarts. Honestly, I didn’t notice it at first; I was reading Frontline’s banners for their current sermon series: Life in the Tension.

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I asked my husband to turn the car around. I wanted to see the staircase suspended between heaven and earth. Turns out it was an old fire escape at the Hotel Marion; it was removed in one piece during renovations. And why throw away something that cool?

So now it hangs between two buildings, delighting children and romantics. It’s quirky. It’s weird. It’s just – there. And I love it.

More than likely it was the power of suggestion from the Frontline signs down the street, but it occurred to me that I like those stairs because they artfully depict the tension in which we all live. The already but not yet. Am I going up or down? On any given day I might be standing joyfully on tip-toe at the top of the stairs, looking up, waiting and expectant. Or I might just as easily be sitting on the bottom step, boots dangling, looking for a reason not to jump. Or perhaps I’m mostly running mindlessly up and down.

I suppose it’s possible that I’m reading too much into it; to misappropriate a phrase, sometimes a staircase is just a staircase, after all. And yet somehow I can’t shake the idea that a fire escape held in mid-air by tension cables must be more than the simple sum of its strange parts.Alison Buxton