It seems somewhat ironic to be finishing this post in the midst of the Corona crisis. It’s been three weeks now since I’ve been on public transport. Talk about being cocooned…
Going from a small box on wheels to a much bigger box that I share with lots of people. That was one of the biggest changes when I moved cities and countries.
You see, where I lived before, I had a car. I would go about daily life somewhat sheltered from what was going on around me. I’d get in the car, turn on the radio and that was it. I would pay attention to anything relevant to traffic (obviously 😉 ) but be pretty oblivious to everything else.
Quite how oblivious I didn’t realise until I moved. Public transport in Berlin is amazing – no need for a car. So suddenly, I would spend a good chunk of my day not cocooned in my car but out there with everyone else. All of what makes Berlin amazing and infuriating was (and is) right there in my face.
You hear every language under the sun.
There are the “musicians” who sing the same verse of the same song every time you encounter them. Every. Single. Time.
And occasionally, there is someone who really can sing.
You see the homeless and the drug addicts. Up close, as they make their way through the train asking for money.
You see artists sketching, as they observe their fellow travellers.
And lots of ordinary people.
Beauty and brokenness.
Day after day after day.
On good days, I enjoy it. Or get so lost in my book that I don’t even notice what’s around me 😉 Other times, it all feels too much, too overwhelming. So much need and hopelessness. So much suffering that invades my space. My heart and soul get tired.
Compassion. Again and again, as I read through the Gospels, that’s what drives Jesus’ response to people. To crowds. To individuals. Compassion. That is not generally how I respond.
I have no easy answers, no quick fix. I suspect this is a struggle that will be with me as long as I live in this city. I also know this reality is forcing me to wrestle with God through some tough questions. And to recognise that my own compassion runs out pretty quickly, that I need to rely on Him. Which are good things. And so I cry out, for myself and for this city
Kyrie Eleison. Lord, have mercy.
Leaving you with some of Berlin’s amazing creativity, making even the everyday sounds of public transport appear beautiful!