New York is as clean, safe, and friendly as it ever has been in its history, or so it seems. One feels safe riding the subways, exploring Manhattan’s small hideaways, and even walking the streets alone late at night. It may be an illusion, yet one doesn’t read about problems in the newspaper, sense others are wary, or see people walking in fear. Everything is good, isn’t it? Yet I wonder if we realize how little has actually changed.
The question comes up because of the Delancy Street subway station. The morning hinted of spring – bright sun, crisp air longing to be just a little bit warmers, and kids strolling to school. Cars were pouring off the bridge from Queens, rushing to their temporary homes in Manhattan, in total chaos yet with a sense of order. Everything was in its place, a restful and intriguing painting was unfolding for anyone caring to take the time and let it all sink into their mind’s canvas.
I found myself caught in the process. The clich?s and images of a new Manhattan were being reinforced with every step, sight, and note. As I reached the rail of the entrance to the subway I casually glanced down to find two fresh, used, and discarded needles.
No matter how idyllic, peaceful, and safe Manhattan might seem, people are still using, pushing, and dying. It’s as if they have ignored the exterior we like to talk about, and “Like a hunted white-tailed deer, like lost sheep with no shepherd, people will huddle with a few of their own kind, run off to some makeshift shelter.” (Isaiah 13.14) They, a man, woman, and maybe even a child, are caught in a web of destruction, unable to free themselves from the bonds.
New York is safer in some way. Yet it is still a dangerous place. We can take shelter within the walls and communities which we trust to guard us yet we must always remember that they will not protect our souls. Rest, peace, and protection are found when we “be” with God.
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