Angel of Waters.

By: Jen Shoop

*I took the above image on my iPhone (!) I’m sure you can tell given its unsophisticated composition, but the quality of photography now available to even those of us novitiates astounds me from time to time…

One of my running routes through Central Park draws me over the bridge that overlooks Bethesda Terrace. In ascent, as I reach the crest, a pair of wings materializes just over the lichen-riddled stone balustrade to my left: the Angel of Waters, the centerpiece of the Bethesda Fountain.

She is nearly at eye level, and she surprises and reassures me every time:

The sudden apparition of the angels among us —

Like the gentleman who ran off the R train, ceding his likely carefully-timed arrival at work, to hand over my daughter’s backpack, which I had dropped in a fluster on the car floor as we scrambled off after the conductor had abruptly announced that the next stop would be 14th Street rather than its usual 28th.

I didn’t properly get to thank him, not only for restoring to me some precious cargo (my daughter’s lunch! her face shield for school! the letter from her beloved friends she ferries to and from home on a daily basis! sanitizer!) but for the inconvenient generosity of the gesture and the way his kindness set something right inside me, as though steadying a glass that had been spiraling on its base.

Instead, in pittance, I tip my hat to the Angel of Waters as I pass her, for all that she represents —

In Biblical terms, the angel who healed the paralytic, an ailment that seems not unfamiliar to me during this time of incredible stress, loss, and babel, and particularly during this month, in which I believe many of us are sitting on pins and needles — and who more generally stands as a welcome patron of healing in the face of coronavirus;

In historic terms, the manifestation of a beautiful public works project just after the Civil War had divided the country;

But in specifics, the people like Helena and the boy at the 23rd street stop and Ms. Branch and, now, the gentleman on the R train, who remind me that even amidst a global pandemic, in a moment of political tumult, in a year of vicious infighting and injury, that there is a balm in Gilead.

Post Scripts.

+Actually rather interesting to read about the provenance of the statue, which was the earliest (!) public artwork by a woman (and an LGBTQ woman at that!) in New York City. It was completed by Emma Stebbins, a native New Yorker, in 1873, and there was some controversy surrounding its selection in that her brother was, at the time of the statue’s commissioning, chairman of the park’s Committee on Statuary, Fountains and Architectural Structure–so charges of nepotism attended its installation, in addition to a scathing artistic critique by The New York Times: “All had expected something great, something of angelic power and beauty, and when a feebly-pretty idealess thing of bronze was revealed the revulsion of feeling was painful.” (Poor Emma! The NYT had it dead wrong, in my opinion.)

+Lots of lessons in contemplating the art of NYC.

+I am lovestruck with the label Playa Lucila. Yes! And very much yes!

+FYI: $1 monograms at Beaufort Bonnet Company with code ALLSMILES through tonight. I especially like monogramming their sunsuits and jammies. Mini had these jammies with a big monogram on the rear end in purple that I treasured, and Hill had this sunsuit with an enormous monogram on the front that was absolutely precious.

+Also v much lovestruck with this Brock dress. (It’s the hints of muted green for me!)

+Fun little giddy-up-spring sweater.

+Another little giddy-up-spring sweater (j’adore!!!!)

+Precious little bubble for a baby girl on a special occasion.

+These earrings are beyond adorable!

+I love this striped turtleneck, currently marked down to only $10?!

+Somebody must buy this tartan dress with scottie dogs smocked across the chest for their baby girl for next year! (On sale!)

+This cape for a little lady!!! Beyond!

+In case you need the reminder: think of the howling wolves

+In case you need another important reminder: you are enough.

+This jute flush mount is such a chic and reasonably-priced way to get rid of the dreaded contractor-grade boob light in your hallways/bedrooms.

+Sweet floral romper for $25 and a $13 striped tee in a great blue shade.

+Say yes to gingham.

+Cute colored tumblers for water or wine! Great for a spring tablescape…

+I want to live in this caftan (on sale!).

+Fantastic Yoox find: Tod’s loafers in pretty pastel pink for under $200.

+A GREAT designer basic at a discount. (Buy now, wear forever.)

+Chic winter accessories.

+I think my heart stopped when I saw this dress. AHHH. Debating buying it for my sister and sister-in-law’s delayed wedding celebration (they actually tied the knot in summer 2020), date TBD…

+It begins with a prayer.

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2 thoughts on “Angel of Waters.

  1. In addition to the loss and grief so many are experiencing, this year has felt so disorienting to me. You captured this so well—I have really leaned on looking for the presence of angels in my life to reorient myself with the knowledge that yes, even now, goodness and grace are still there around us, making “the wounded whole.”
    PS – There is a Balm in Gilead never fails to make me teary!

    1. Yes – exactly! I also find those lyrics so moving. One of my favorite hymns, aside from “Were You There” (haunting) and “Amazing Grace.”


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