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I Feel Your Pain, Diores

Then fate fell upon Diores, son of Amarynceus, for he was struck by a jagged stone near the ankle of his right leg. He that hurled it was Peirous, son of Imbrasus, captain of the Thracians, who had come from Aenus; the bones and both the tendons were crushed by the pitiless stone.

-The Iliad

That would be his peroneus brevus and peroneus longus tendons, most likely.

I can relate. See: “Return to Peroneus Brevis Hill”.

Here is New York

Near the end of E. B. White’s essay, “Here is New York,” published in 1949, there are these prophetic paragraphs:

The subtlest change in New York is something people don’t speak much about but is in everyone’s mind. The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sound of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition.

All dwellers of cities must live with the stubborn fact of annihilation; in New York the fact is somewhat more concentrated because of the concentration of the city itself, and because, of all targets, New York has a certain clear priority. In the mind of whatever perverted dreamer might loose the lightning, New York must hold steady, irresistible charm.

It used to be the Statue of Liberty was the signpost that proclaimed New York and translated it for all the world. Today Liberty shares the role with Death. Along the East River, from the razed slaughterhouses of Turtle Bay, as though in a race with the spectral flight of planes, men are carving out the permanent headquarters of the United Nations – the greatest housing project of them all. In it’s stride, New York takes on one more interior city, to shelter, this time, all governments, and to clear the slum called war. New York is not a capital city – it is not a national capital or a state capital. But it is by way of becoming the capital of the world. The buildings, as conceived by architects, will be cigar boxes set on end. Traffic will flow in a new tunnel under First Avenue. Forty-seventh Street will be widened (and if my guess is any good, trucks will appear late at night to plant tall trees surreptitiously, their roots to mingle with the intestines of the town). Once again the city will absorb, almost without showing any sign of it, a congress of visitors. It has already shown itself capable of stashing away the United Nations – a great many of the delegates have been around town during the past couple of years, and the citizenry has hardly caught a glimpse of their coattails or their black Homburgs.

This race – this race between the destroying planes and the struggling Parliament of Man – it sticks in all our heads. The city at last perfectly illustrates both the universal dilemma and the general solution, this riddle in steel and stone is at once the perfect target and the perfect demonstration of nonviolence, of racial brotherhood, this lofty target scraping the skies and meeting the destroying planes halfway, home of all people an all nations, capital of everything, housing the deliberations by which the planes are to be stayed and their errand forestalled.

A block or two west of the new City of Man in Turtle Bay there is an old willow tree that presides over an interior garden. It is a battered tree, long suffering and much climbed, held together by strands of wire but beloved of those who know it. In a way it symbolizes the city: life under difficulties, growth against the odds, sap-rise in the midst of concrete, and the steady reaching for the sun. Whenever I look at it nowadays, and feel the cold shadow of the planes, I think: “This must be saved, this particular thing, this very tree.” If it were to go, all would go – this city, this mischievous and marvelous monument which not to look upon would be like death

Dear E. B., just over 50 years later, the “perverted dreamers” with just two planes appeared to be winning the race of which you wrote. The “struggling Parliament of Man,” to many of us, has not lived up to the expectations which you and others held for it at the time its home was being planted in Turtle Bay. The “spectral flight of planes” has taken on corpreal horror for New Yorkers, for those of us who love New York, for Americans, and for civilized people the world over. There does not appear to be a way by which to “clear the slum called war.”

Photo by Masatomo Kuriya/Corbis Sygma
Photo by Masatomo Kuriya/Corbis Sygma

Also, Mr. White, sadly, they cut down the old willow tree in 2009.

Happily, New York still stands.

(My own thoughts shortly after 9/11 can be found in my post “I Love New York”.)

The Sympathy of Christ

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“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same.” “Verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” In that He himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.” We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” Such, my reader, is Christ, and such His sympathy with you! And in all the circumstances of your Christian life it is an instructive and consolatory thought, that your humanity is represented in heaven by the Head of all creation; that the Lord Jesus – the “first-born among many brethren” – is still clad in our nature, and occupies the central throne in glory, exalted “far above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” From that elevation of dignity, glory, and power, encircling spirits hymning His high praise, there flows down to you a continuous stream of sympathy, grace, and succour, meeting your every circumstance, supplying your every want, soothing your every grief, and shedding the soft and cheering lustre of a personal presence on your homeward path to glory. And although we no more “know Christ after the flesh,” yet, dealing by faith with His personality, we may realise that we possess a Friend, a Brother, and a Redeemer, in whom are mysteriously yet truly united – the SYMPATHETIC NATURE OF MAN, with the INFINITE MIND OF GOD.

I found this book by Octavius Winslow back in 1997 when I was going through a particularly dark and lonely time in my life. Very dark. Very lonely. The book was like a tender hand upon my shoulder in that darkness. It was a kind voice gently reminding me that Jesus was touched by what I was going through and could relate to my loneliness.

I’ve been wanting to read this book again. I don’t remember how many times I’ve read it in the past. But it’s been a long time. So I began reading it on November 25th, one month before Christmas and just two days before Advent began. What better time of the religious year to read a book about the humanity of Christ than during the four weeks leading up to the feast day that celebrates His birth? What better time to meditate on the reason why the baby Jesus was born? The reason was not just to promote a quaint old story that is now tangled up in strings of light and burdened by presents under a pine tree. It’s more than that: Jesus was born in order to be MY friend, MY brother, MY redeemer. It’s about time I pulled this book off the shelf to be reminded of these things once again.