How? Lamentation for your city and mine
[The Book of Lamentations is read on Tisha B’av – the day on which the First and Second Temple in Jerusalem were destroyed. The texts in italics are quotes from the Hebrew Bible.]
How deserted is the city, so once full of people! (Lamentations 1:1)
The stores are vacated. The streets are empty. Our theaters, arenas, and sanctuaries are desolate.
She sobs through the night, tears streaming down her cheeks. There is no one to comfort her. (1:2)
Our town and our residents are overwhelmed with anxiety about illness, economic insecurity, and separation from those they love.
Her roads are in mourning, empty of holiday travelers, all her gates are deserted. (1:4)
Passover, Easter, Ramadan, graduations – all will be somberly and virtually held on screens or in hearts.
She remembers all the precious things she had in the days of old. (1:7)
Sporting and cultural events, arts and music festivals – postponed, perhaps never to be rescheduled.
Our city has greatly sinned… she has become a mockery. All who admired her deride her. (1:8)
This time must be one of introspection and learning for our cities, counties, states, and country – how could this happen and what can we do differently?
The city calls out in sympathy to those who see her plight “May it never befall you!” Look about and see: Is there any agony like mine? (1:9,12)
Wuhan, Milan, Qom (a sacred site of pilgrimage in Iran), Madrid, New York… this disease can become manageable. Let us teach one another. Let us learn from one another. Let us help one another.
Turn us back and we will turn, renew our days as before. (5:21)
When we return, let us help all to return – to health, to sustenance, to more sustainable priorities, and to each other.
Photo by Ben Hershey. Day 10 of social distancing.