How Lonely Sits the City That Once Was Full of People

How lonely sits the city
that once was full of people

All the cities on lockdown all over the world, how strange they seem when one looks them up on various webcams, or ventures out to buy food in one’s own area. Places where parking is impossible, and bikes, cars, and pedestrians fill the spaces, are now empty and quiet.

How like a widow has she become that was once great among the nations!

Is this our fate? The economic fall out we will later face (and some face now) is unimaginable. How do we prepare for that when we cannot imagine what it will be? Many are preparing and planning, looking forward to getting back to normal. What if there is no normal waiting for us? We will likely have to carve out an entirely new way to live our lives- new to us, anyway, face new challenges. Children who won’t be going back to school, businesses that will have shuttered their doors, global spending and buying habits, manufacturing shifted, the things we think we need and which businesses have grown into supplying we no longer will even want. What wil replace them, and how?

She that was a princess among the cities
has become a vassal.

I hope not.

I am not prophet and I am not even a very good philosopher. I guessed wrong about this virus in the early stages, as most Americans did, even ones who are now blaming everybody on the other side for not seeing it soon enough. Maybe I am wrong and there will be a quick return to the current normal. 9/11 didn’t really change most of us and the way we lived very much after all.

Maybe I am not.

The above italicized lines are from Lamentations 1:1

The reasons for the lonely, solitary devastation of that city are different than the reasons for the solitary nature of our cities. And if we look closer, possibly there is some renewed community in smaller spaces, local neighbourhoods as people get to know each other better and no Karens are among them reporting people for breathing outside.

But there are similarities as well. Here is an interesting exposition of the passage. I found it a strangely comforting reminder of what matters.

The site is the home of: ” the Dominican student brothers of the St. Joseph Province of the Order of Preachers. We live and study at the Dominican House of Studies and at St. Dominic’s Priory, both in Washington, D.C.”

It is also, quite charmingly, the home of The Hillbilly Thomists- monks who sing bluegrass. I give you Wayfaring Stranger:

The entire album is free for streaming for those who have Amazon Prime. I find it restful and soothing to sing along with this. I hope you do, too. We are all wayfaring strangers here.

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One Comment

  1. Frances
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    The last day or so I’m hearing the chimes that signal subway doors closing. The elevated station is about half a block from our house. I guess it’s usually swallowed up in the constant background traffic noise.

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