Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Sirens

In mythology, the Sirens were seductresses who lured those who heard their song to disaster.  The term "siren song" refers to their sound and their charm, hard to resist but, if heard, leads to destruction. 

Early Christians denied the existence of The Sirens, but said they were a metaphor for women: beautiful and alluring, yet always seductive, drawing men to destruction. Surprised?

I hear the sirens every night, throughout the night. Their song changes often, but they are always there. WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP. AWWWWwww AWWWWwwww. OOop OOop Oop. ooOP ooOP ooOP. WaWaWa…They are a part of the allure of the downtown area, yet they always portend disaster of some sort, for someone: A stranger has been shot; A street person has frozen to death; an elderly person needs hospitalization; a SRO caught fire because the ancient, gas-leaking stove was needed for heat.

And when I hear them, When I hear the Sirens, I feel both the excitement of the city and the fury of interrupted sleep. The sounds of the city, the sounds of the night. Calling, calling. Making clear that this is not yet the city of God, but still a city of nighttime sin. It is a city that needs transformation, while all the while it transforms. Night spreads over the city and what dreams may come must give us pause. If we sleep, we loose. If I sleep and dream through the sirens, the sirens take me to destruction.

Is this world of Sirens real, or are my dreams? Is life so bleak, is the night so threatening on these streets that the calls of the Sirens are to terror and fear?

A man is yelling out front, in the night; in the rain. His words are repetitive: “JOHN PAUL IS POPE. THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH. JOHN PAUL IS POPE. THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH…” The sirens come again. “JOHN PAUL IS POPE. THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH. JOHN PAUL IS POPE. THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH…” I dare to speak: “You know, John Paul isn’t pope anymore.” “No?” “They have a new one. His name is Benedict.” “I haven’t been that involved. I didn’t know. John Paul was….well, I have to go. God Bless you.” “God bless you too.”

One less siren in the city. Perhaps I’ll sleep tonight.