During this dense, wrenching moment in time, the title of long-suffering Canadian writer, Elizabeth Smart’s book “By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept” (published in 1945) comes to mind. The image of simply plopping down and weeping describes my condition these days and weeks, hours and minutes. It’s all just to much!
Israel and Hamas. Pro-Israeli rhetoric. Pro-Palestinian rhetoric. Threats against Jews ‘above Cayuga’s waters’ . Threats against Rashida Harbi Tlaib. Creepy Mike Johnson. Ambulances and fire trucks roaring through my neighborhood. Jack-hammers on 25th Street. Construction site thunderous poundings on 8th avenue. Leaf blowers harassing fallen leaves in the small park below both living room and bedroom.
No resistance against being sucked into a whirlpool of shrill hate: MAGA fascism in the name of Christianity. Quivering anti-Israeli bleats. So much human coldness that every part of my being is chilled. It seems impossible to imagine anything that might warm me. Shall I wrap myself in blankets? Take strong drugs? Hide in a monastery? Bury myself in silky sand? Drink undiluted Vivaldi, Mozart, Corelli?
Galway Kinnel wrote in a poem: “The lord turned away, washing his hands without soap or water. Like a common house fly.”
Alice Walker commented in “The Color Purple”: “People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it [God) always trying to please us back.”
Could have fooled me.
Yeah, we wept, when we remembered ZionBy the rivers of Babylon, there we sat downYeah, we wept, when we remembered Zion
There the wickedCarried us away in captivityRequired from us a songNow how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
There the wickedCarried us away in captivityRequiring of us a songNow how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heartBe acceptable in thy sight here tonightLet the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heartsBe acceptable in thy sight here tonight
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat downYeah, we wept, when we remembered ZionBy the rivers of Babylon, there we sat downYeah, we wept, when we remembered Zion
By the rivers of Babylon (dark tears of Babylon)There we sat down (you got to sing a song)Yeah, we wept (sing a song of love)When we remembered Zion (yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
By the rivers of Babylon (rough bits of Babylon)There we sat down (you hear the people cry)Yeah, we wept (they need their God)When we remembered Zion (ooh, have the power)
By the rivers of Babylon (oh yeah yeah), there we sat down (yeah, yeah)
[Songwriters: Brent Gayford Dowe / Frank Farian / George Reyam / James Agustus Mcnaughton
Rivers of Babylon lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC,
Universal Music Publishing Group]