Wow. I couldn't remember ever weeping for my city. I'd heard people say they had. I'd choked up over this awesome worship song about the God of this city the first time Erin had played it on the guitar resting against her hip and had sung it slowly and beautifully, meaningfully, tearfully.
She was weeping for her city.
I was teary-eyed from the beauty of the song and the emotions it evoked, but not for my city. Not if I'm honest about the moment.
Years ago, Pastor Dean Brown had been driving through rural New Brunswick and had heard reports of murders in Halifax on the radio and had said to his wife, Rosalie, " I sure am glad we don't live in Halifax", whereupon he instantly heard that small voice in his head, "You're GOING to live there," and he looked over at Rosalie to see the tears running down her face as she said, "We're going there, aren't we?"
They wept for their city.
And when Pastor Donald asked us the question a few Sundays ago, I could hear the catch in his throat as he said, "This is my city; these are MY people".
He wept for his city.
As you know, my dear, one and only reader, (thanks, ma), I have recently wept for another city. I cried for their poor, their children, their moms, their homeless, their flooded land, their dying animals...but mostly for their children.
But I had not shed one tear for my city, my people. For our poor, our lonely, our homeless, our despairing, our broken hearted, our lost, our afraid, our hungry, our children and moms and dads who don't know how dear they are, how loved they are, how wondrously majestic they are, created for a purpose. Unique and spectacular.
When they wake, are they stretching hands up to the heavens, thankful for the warm bed, safe home full of family, full tummy, freshly brewed coffee, cozy reading chair, refreshing shower, clean clothes, new shoes, artfully planted flower beds, magnolia and lilac trees, a car with heated seats, favourite cd playing, a job to go to, friends on facebook and twitter, a church to go to where they're loved and hugged and praised and edified...?
When they look in the mirror do they see their beauty and intelligence and depth? Do they see the fingerprints of God all over their faces and the faces and places they love, all over their gifts and talents and the things they do and make? Do they see his art and science in their own? Do they hear his voice in their voices, in the birdsong, in the thunder? Do they know how much he loves them? Do they care?
These were the thoughts I was thinking as I drove to work that Monday morning looking around at the faces in the cars on either side of me on the bi-high. There were a lot of cars and a lot of faces, but there were NOT a lot of smiling, peace-filled faces. As a matter of fact, in the 73 cars I passed or watched pass me (just so you know, I passed WAY more than passed me....I may be a thinking person, but I'm very results oriented when it comes to winning in traffic...sure, I'm just about the POLITE-EST driver in the city...I let 'em all in...but I'm shrewd and calculating in picking my lane and when EXACTLY to switch lanes...but I digress)
As a matter of fact, in the 73 cars I passed or watched pass me that Monday morning, I did not see one smile. Two or three distracted two-raised-finger waves as I let people into my line of traffic and smiled my biggest good morning smile at them. But no smiles. There were probably smiles, but I didn't see them. Because, like my friend Claude said last week, many people aren't winning in life. And me letting them into my line of traffic is not going to help them one bit with their finances or marriages or lonely, broken hearts. They need so much more.
And suddenly it happened.
I was weeping for my city. For my people. It was a groundhog day moment and the rest of the day slowed down into live-able, action-able moments as I looked for ways to help, to make a difference.
Right here in my city.