One thing you will notice, but not expect, when you step onto a New York City street is… side-walk scaffolding. Since I’ve lived in NYC, the metal structures seem to have spread like ivy. Often, favorite landmarks are covered, to the dismay of tourists ready with their phones to snap shots. The scaffolding is so prevalent, you notice the buildings that are not adorned with steel poles. 

According to the Department of Buildings, there are over 9,000 active sheds, as they are known, in the five boroughs. They cover nearly 375 miles. Manhattan island is only 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles at its widest point!

The scaffolding is ugly. It hides beautiful buildings. It makes the streets dirty. Sidewalks seems an endless line of steel poles sitting on small blocks of wood. Corrugated metal and plywood makes an unending canopy overhead.

On some buildings, the scaffolding seems to have been in place for an eternity. On our last apartment, the scaffolding went up pre-pandemic. It’s still there.

Apart from the important purpose to inspect facades to avoid falling masonry injuring or killing a passerby, which it has done twice, the scaffolding has one advantage. 

It provides shelter from a storm. 

When downpours are violent and rain splashes up from the pavement, the sheds provide a pleasant respite. Office workers, homeless, doordash delivery guys with their electric bikes, dogs and their owners, any but everyone huddles under the sheds until the rain begins to subside. 

The other day, without an umbrella and caught in an unexpected rain shower, I was grateful to see I could walk one whole block without a drop of rain hitting my head. “If you stay to the left side of Park,” said my husband, “you can make it home without getting too wet.” He was right. 

Some restaurants have made the most of the covered sidewalks, lacing the steel poles with artificial flowers, stringing lighting from the canopy, and serving diners when other restaurants have had to stack their chairs to keep tables dry.

We can appreciate the temporary side-walk shelter, but the Bible reminds us that God provides lasting shelter. Unlike the ugly scaffolding, his shelter is described as a “sacred tent,” “a secluded chamber,” “his pavilion,” and “the perfect getaway.”

What a stack of blessing you have piled up for those who worship you, Ready and waiting for all who run to you to escape an unkind world.

Psalm 31:20 MSG

When we run to our heavenly Father for protection we can catch our breath because we can feel his breath. We can be reassured we are out of danger because there is comfort in his closeness. When storms sweep in we can find shelter in his arms.


Heavenly Father,

I come to you to

Be in your presence,

To find comfort.

As I spend these few moments

With you,

Reassure me of your constant

Protection because

I trust in you.

I know you will keep me safe.

Protect me with

Your shadow today.

Stretch out your arms

And keep me from harm,

So I can praise you.


Photo by Anant Jain on Unsplash

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