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Quarantine NYC – Day 21
I’m going to be honest, writing about anything other than NYC right now feels incredibly tone deaf. Disingenuous. Insensitive.
There was an 18 wheeler semi truck parked on my street today, in front of a hospital that’s on my block. It was an unusual sight. Not actively loading or unloading. Just parked. All day. Unmarked. Unattended. Out of place among the deserted streets with barely any traffic anymore.
I didn’t think much of it, until I turned on the news that night, only to learn that that hospital is now being used as a temporary morgue for the coronavirus victims. And that semi? It’s a refrigerated holding box for the bodies.
You turn on the news right now, and 90% of the coverage is about how New York City is, for lack of a better term, bleeding out from the impact of the coronavirus on the city.
Which is true.
But as I watch the coverage, and watch Cuomo’s news conferences, and the shots of reporters on the street, and montage images of Times Square and other recognizable landmarks…it is just striking to me that all of this coverage is really missing the mark.
I’ve been in NYC for nine years now, and the city has never felt this way. Not after Hurricane Sandy. Not after Trump was elected. It’s acutely different.
You see, if anyone ever asks me why I love New York, my eyes will always light up, and I’ll answer with two monosyllabic words: the pulse.
That is the “secret ingredient.” The “it factor.” The hutzpah that makes this great city what it is.
You step outside and there is a literal buzz in the air. It’s electric. From people chasing their dreams. Falling in love. Hustling. Beating the odds. Challenging their limits. And just flat out going for it.
And that, friends, is gone. Corona has flatlined that pulse.
The most jarring effect of COVID19 on the city: is the silence. It is truly deafening.
You walk outside, and you can hear the wind. You can hear the subway rumbling below.
Having lived here for so long, the noise has become part of my life’s soundtrack. In fact, I can’t sleep without it. New Yorkers love to complain about it, but the truth is, there’s a comfort to it. It gives me a sense of security. Of belonging.
That noise is no more.
Only it has been replaced by the haunting symphony of sirens. Blaring relentlessly. Crying through the streets at all hours, day and night.
Again, sirens have always been part of the musical make up of Manhattan, but not like this. Not to this caliber of consistency.
And every time I hear one, I offer a prayer for the person it’s rushing to help. A habit I wish wasn’t so repetitive.
But that tension I’m feeling in the air — that grip of suffocation everyone is feeling — is fear.
People are afraid. They’re holed up, trying to live their lives as normal as they can, but the undertone beneath it all, is fear of the this unseen enemy, whose power is uncertain and unchecked and not fully understood.
So we’re silently hostile with our personal space. We resort to selfish behaviors around food and supplies and toiletries. We look with suspicion on those wearing masks, or those not wearing masks. We judge. We don’t make eye contact. And a smile is out of the question.
But we’re all here. We’re all huddled away in our triple-digit square foot apartments doing our best to stay brave and stay positive.
But there’s a moment every night at 7:00, when the nurses and doctors change shifts for the day, when the entire city applauds these heroes on their way home from the hospital. People fling open their windows and clap. And holler. And yell. Some, like myself, bang their pots and pans. It’s a surreal moment of shared humanity.
Yesterday, I looked across the street at my neighbors who were all out on their fire escapes, and for that brief moment, we were all on the same team. We were all collectively exhaling. And truly seeing one another — seeing their fear. Seeing their emotion. Their hurt. Their release of anxiety through a flurry of clapping and hollering, as though the soul was flung out and escaping the barricades.
We’re entering into Holy Week, and it is truly surreal to be fasting from Mass, and from the Eucharist during Lent. There is something missing in my life that is truly so tangible. I long for Mass. I long for that peace and security and comfort found at church. I long for the literal pulse — the heart beat of my faith: the Mass.
That pulse that I’m missing in New York — that makes New York, New York — is that same pulse I’m missing right now as we enter the final preparations of Easter.
Maybe you’re feeling the same, too.
I think now, more than ever, is the time when we, as a faith community, all need to fling open our windows and start banging the pots and pans, too. We need to collectively let out that fear, that longing in our hearts that we feel as we’re prohibited from worshiping together.
Now is the time to come together as a faith community and hurt together. Release it together. Heal together. Hope together. Survive together. While apart.
Because the most insidious weapon that the evil one has, is to make us believe that we are truly alone. Isolated. Forgotten.
Friends, that is never the case. Not now, not ever.
We’re all in this together. And this week, as we walk through Holy Week, physically separated from our lifeline – our pulse – may we truly see one another in our humanness through it all.
And prove the resiliency of the Body of Christ.
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God bless, yall are in my prayers.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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Here was yesterday’s video! https://youtu.be/8pmp4ZI968A
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