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Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord. Genesis 13:12

 

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Atlanta, Photo by Randy Sanford

Cities, in my thinking, are just plain wrong. Abraham choose to settle in the land of Canaan, while Lot choose to settle near the city of Sodom. Eventually, Lot moved right into the city. A N D look what happened to him. A N D look what the Lord did to the city.

Nope. Humans were made for gardens, wide open spaces, even the vast deserts. Out in Death Valley, there is a military post, Fort Irwin, which has become important for troops preparing to depart for the Middle East. When I trained there many years ago there was a landing field called Bicycle Lake. Every year it flooded and became an actual lake, though very shallow. And just after the rain came the brine shrimp. They hatched. They lived. They reproduced. Then as water soon receded, they died. Wild flowers followed. The damp sand activated seeds that immediately sprouted. The plants grew and bloomed. The flowers dropped seeds. Eventually the flowers dried and fertilized the area beneath them, where the seeds remained until the next rain. Who’d have thought of such an incredible garden in the desert. There just isn’t anywhere on Earth that those who have eyes to see can call a “G-d forsaken” place. Unless it’s a city. A city like Sodom.

There’s nothing to argue about when you say that there are such beautiful buildings. When you travel to London, the sites include St. Paul’s, the Tower of London, Big Ben. When in 1962 the London Bridge was falling down, it was taken to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, for tourist trade. The thing that the cities have in common, including their beautiful buildings, is that they’re all creations of mankind. When we get too many man-made things in one place, I think we suppress the G-d-made wonders. When we forget G-d, we separate ourselves and fall err to pride and all the related sins.

Sure, there are some gardens in cities. New York’s Central Park comes to mind. I’ve not been there. I don’t have any desire to go there. I’ve heard about the bad things that happen there. I don’t have any desire to experience it. I’d rather spend a day on the lake, with the wind behind the sail, the sun warming my head. I’d rather look at the trees along the shore and the hills that surround the lake. I’d rather anchor near an island and enjoy the quiet, the peace, surrounded by things that G-d made.

There’s an exception, of course. Jerusalem. G-d had it in His mind long before it was settled. And G-d was part of the initial settling of Jerusalem. It’s rich in history, memories of past times, some good and some bad, seem to ooze from the stones of the Via Dela Rosa. And the Western Wall of the Temple is sacred. There’s a small road leading down out of the city. Old Roman stones are still seen here and there. Walking along the road, one can hear among the trees and rocks the whispering of its story; day after day for two thousand years the story has been told over and over.

. . .two of them [Apostles] were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. Luke 24:13-35.

Perhaps the problem with modern cities is that the sacred is not there, never was. And even most of the ancient cities that remain have lost too much of the sacredness that G-d seems not to be there.

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