Weeping and Remembering
In Psalm 137 we hear the writer say, “By the rivers of Babylon, we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion.” The word Zion is another name for Jerusalem. The writer is Jewish and he has been carried off to a foreign land with many others after the Babylonian army destroyed their city of Jerusalem. I have sometimes wondered what it must have been like for those who were carried off as prisoners into exile. What would it have been like to look back and see your city being burned to the ground?
Our neighbors up the freeway in Ventura have had an experience like this the last few days as the Thomas fire raged across the hillsides and down into the city. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be forced to evacuate then looking back and seeing homes and businesses being burned to the ground—one of which might be yours. As people settled in at shelters or with friends and families, the reality of what had happened may have begun to set in and perhaps some people sat down and began to weep as they remembered all that they had lost.
In the Scripture, some of the Jewish people who had been exiled eventually are able to return. After the Persian Empire defeated the Babylonian Empire, the new rulers allowed people to return to their homelands and practice their own religions. Ezra and Nehemiah are Jewish leaders who go back to re-build the temple and walls surrounding Jerusalem.
Eventually residents in Ventura will begin to re-build, but for now there is weeping and remembering. We too weep with our neighbors who are feeling lost and displaced. We too remember that our lives are fragile and our situations vulnerable to disasters that flare up and shift with the wind. May our remembering lead to empathy and an impulse to reach out to assist as we are able.
– Pastor Erik