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The city can overwhelm me.

Not empty places, not vast oceans. I can walk alone through acres and acres of woods, I can swim in the Pacific, with no one around for miles, and never feel lonely. Rather, those situations leave me feeling content. Completely.

There’s something about the city the leaves me feeling like I’m not enough. I don’t have enough, do enough, earn enough, hurt enough, celebrate enough, give enough. 

I live in Dorchester and commute to Beacon Hill for work. It’s like undergoing daily culture shock. From the poorest to the richest in a 20 minute train ride. 

The families who live right around the corner from me have undergone two tragedies in the past week. A child gone missing [likely taken by an Irish gang, as he was found in the South End]. A teen mother shot and killed. It’s something that would send a rural community reeling for months. It’s just another week here. Next week it will be another violent act, another life taken.

Then when I come into work, they are worried about things like about how effective our new signage is, or which vacation home they should spend the holidays at. They are wonderful, kind and generous people. But their lives just seem so sheltered.

It’s not just the city and life here that overwhelms me. It’s the things in my life I am dealing with currently. Hawaii was filled with longings to be free, and in a way knowing freedom, because I was able to just rest and get to know who I really am. Perhaps preparation for this season I find myself in now. Finding all the things I need freedom from and the tedious task of removal and release.

The city doesn’t seem conducive to that.

The violence, the constant sirens screaming, the hopelessness on every corner, the throngs of people you just can’t ever get away from.

Yet, I am learning [and praying for] this: 

“… the solitude that really counts is the solitude of the heart; it is an inner quality or attitude that does not depend on physical isolation.” [henri nouwen]