The man lived in the city.
The city was a city of industry.
Its streets were busy and its buildings neat, regular and
well-constructed; it had beautiful gardens. The people of the city were
tall and strong and full of energy. There were rich, and there were
poor, but few were destitute. Everything in the city was well ordered
and for most of the people, for most of the time everything lived
together in harmony.
The man lived in the spaces of the city. For although the city was well
ordered there were always gaps. Things that got left undone, things
forgotten and times when there was nobody in the right place at the
right time. The man made his living out of being, not exactly the right
person, in the right place at the right time but somebody who was
around and could do it good enough for the time being.
The man never made his fortune in
the great industry of the city. But there was enough happening to
enable him to scratch and scrimp a living. Gradually he came to trust
himself and enjoy his variegated life fitting into other people’s
Then, one day the news came. The invaders were approaching the city.
Nothing could be done to resist them. The day had come and they would
swoop on the city: barbarians upon the carcass of civilization, no one
would be safe. Flight was the only option.
The city of great industry organised itself for flight. People took
their belongings and piled them in trucks and carts. Carpets, tables,
chairs, ornaments ... everything they owned piled high in wooden trucks
and hand-drawn carriages. The people began to walk. They trailed for
miles out of the city - a dusty snake of humanity.
The man could not walk. Maybe this was why he had never made his
fortune in the city. He had to carry his pain around the industrious
city like the people now carried their belongings upon their backs and
carts. And now he could not join the general exodus for his feet always
ached - they were weak and no doctor could ever cure him. So when the
people left the city as the invaders came near; the man remained in the
The man was in the city and it was deserted and he was completely
alone. The busy thoroughfares were empty. The streets quiet. The great,
well-ordered buildings vacant. All that hurried down the avenues of the
city was gray dust blown by an empty wind. The people had all left but he
couldn't join them on their journey, his journey was different and he
found himself reflecting on his life, on God and the human condition.
He thought to himself “I must stay here. I cannot walk. I must await my
fate. If they kill me I will die, if they do not then ... what will I
do?”. As he waited in the city he wondered what he would do. He came to
realize that although he was not a great man of the city of industry he
needed it. He lived in its gaps and fed upon it. “But what am I to do
now?”. This question was his whole life, waiting alone in the great
Then he realised.
“I can tell stories. Everyone enjoys stories. Even barbarians enjoy
stories. I can tell them all the great stories of the city. I will be a
And he felt a great contentment.
StorytellerWhat am I to do in this vast city of human
How am I to live in this complexity of
I am surrounded by lies
The slogans of barbarians
The wiles of propagandists
With the good people of the city truth has
And I am alone in the streets of cliché and
Only one thing I can do: Sing the Sweet
Tell the story of Truthful One
We've the wistful tales of home
And celebrate in words
the bloody birth
the gorgeous life
the ungentle death
Of the Word made human, humane flesh