To Amsha and the Yazidi Women

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Displaced demonstrators from the minority Yazidi sect demonstrate outside the United Nations offices in Irbil, Iraq, on Aug. 4 in support of those held captive by the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

Displaced demonstrators from the minority Yazidi sect demonstrate outside the United Nations offices in Irbil, Iraq, on Aug. 4 in support of those held captive by the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

To Amsha and the Yazidi Women,

The car has made its way back home from dropping the boys off  and it is time to walk back inside to begin the tasks of the day – emails to send, errands to run, calls to make.  But I am hunched over the steering wheel, my eyes glazed over as I watch the tree branches sway.  The grey fall morning and my to-do list for the day feels suddenly foreign as I finish listening to a NPR report.  Through the power of journalism, I have been transported to Erbil in Iraq as Leila Fadel tells me you.  She tells me how you and your fellow Yazidi women have been captured by ISIS and held as slaves for sex, violence, and service after your husbands and families have been murdered before your very eyes.

Your voice makes it real.  Your soft voice sounds too familiar.  The words, I may not understand, but your humanity I receive.  It is a voice of a fellow woman, a fellow human being, who has endured the darkest night and now wonders, where do I go from here?  Can life continue now that my dignity and my community has been robbed?

The separation between the your experience as Yazidi women and our experience as American women is so vast that it is hard to even believe either to be true.  Both experiences seem at such extremes that they are dreams (or nightmares) rather than realities.

So I sit on my porch.  Almost as if I can’t enter back inside until I have let you dwell within me.  Almost as if I can’t go about my day until I have let your story become a part of mine.

The breeze in the trees.  The pumpkins on porches.  The cars in driveways.  The breath within me.  I am human.  You are human.  We exist on the same planet but dwell in different worlds.

How I wish I could invite you in to sit for awhile.  I imagine what it would be like to be close enough to be able to share resources and share stories so that we might find that we are more together than we are apart.

A friend of mine had the honor of having Maya Angelou as a professor at Wake.  She would come back to our dorms after class and tell of the extravagance of her speech, her mannerisms, and her wisdom.  She would share how Maya shared over and over, “I am a human. Nothing human is foreign to me.”

As those who hear your story here on American soil, I wonder… what are we to do when Truth shakes us out of our first-world haze?  How are we to go about our life when our global world floods our ears but evades our touch?

I can look the other way and keep moving.
I can look down and let apathy set in.
Or, I can gather all the strength within me and look you in the face and be changed.

So I pause to look you in the face.  I give thanks for the bridges, like Leila, that unite you and I for a moment.  And I then re-enter my life wondering, how might Love call me to live differently now that I know you?  I wait in the mystery and listen for the whispers.

In grace and peace, in mystery and love,

Your sister in Kentucky

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