We used to live next to The Whitney Museum.
From our windows we would see long lines of people, snaking around the modern white building, waiting to absorb contemporary art, as the sun set spraying its varied colored glow over the city with sea breeze air wafting in and around the west side streets.
Now it’s empty. The Whitney. The streets. The city. All of it.
Before we moved from NYC last Wednesday the virus case count was still relatively low, under five hundred. Now at this writing it’s mushroomed to over twenty thousand, with no sign of it slowing down.
Life can change in an instant.
A pandemic apparently does that. New York was thriving. Full of life. Alive. Now it’s on life support. Sure, it has buildings. But they are shells without the people inhabiting them. The sidewalks, once teeming with feet, are bare.
Barrenness is everywhere.
One moment you live in a city swarming with activity, the next moment the same city is quiet as death.
I don’t write this to make you sad.
This is about remembering what life was like in a city I love, that was filled with mirth, possibilities, dreams, hopes.
These words are about not forgetting, reminding myself—you— that things were not always filled with fear, sickness, nor will they remain as they are.
They will improve.
See, it’s easy to get swept into the pain, the loss, the panic, the scarcity of toilet paper. It sweeps you up and takes you wherever it goes like a raging river.
But, remembering a different time, better times, in these moments of agony is an act of defiance against the darkness that wants to take any shred of light you have.
For me, hope is best cultivated in faith. In dire times only an infinite God who took on flesh and suffered as I suffer and bled for me, you, us, so that we can be in relationship with Him is a balm to my soul and wings for my heart. With that, I can fly, even in a starless night.
But even if you do not believe as I do—fair enough.
As we remember, we shouldn’t live in the past. That is gone. It remains as a relic of a bygone time that can never be resurrected, but it can be referenced. It allows us to see what could be in the future.
Humanity has survived horrible times; history is riddled with them: other pandemics, The Great Recession, The Great Depression, World War II, and so many other wars, diseases, disasters.
Feeling like the world is teetering on the edge of a dreadful abyss isn’t a new experience.
Yes, at the moment we are swallowed in the blackness of night. But the dawn always comes.
And one day we will see the streets bustling with people buzzing around to swim in the beauty and majesty of the city.
We will live.