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? Continue reading
To the newborn baby in the arms of your migrant mother,
We heard news of your arrival yesterday. There were no balloons or texts. There were no Facebook announcements or professional photos. We heard of news of your birth as we were seated surrounded by the sacred stones and saints in stained glass. Your advocate and future pastor, Samuel, brought us the news from the pulpit. He mentioned no baby showers, no hospital visits, no grandparents, no newborn tests.
You were born under the radar. You were born in isolation. You were born out of the violence of rape as your mother escaped the dangers of her home countries. You were born into the masses of migrants that flood the Moroccan streets, stuck on the border of Africa and Europe. You were born stuck, homeless, and unknown for there are no documents announcing your arrival.
I feel it again on the car ride home from daycare. My daily worries, headaches, and inconveniences are pierced and shattered by word about the state of my fellow humans living around this world we share. The stories. The audible cries of the hurting.
I pause. Not to give thanks for my privileged life, but to walk a mile in the shoes of another in prayer. Seemingly inconsequential in the face of another’s impending death in war. Seemingly not enough in the face of another’s life-altering grief. Six-degrees-of-separation suggests the suffering of another is never far from me. Scripture suggests it must always be within me.
I pause and I walk next to each of them in prayer… Continue reading
She stood still as a statue with her baby in her arms. I breezed by her as I walked through the gate to plop my youngest down around the other babies. Before heading out the door, I paused as the daycare workers sought to comfort the mother cradling her ten month old.
“First day?” I ask. Continue reading
Each morning, the voices and images of people across the globe flood my second floor as I prepare for the day. Through the amazing gift of technology, Brian Williams catches me up on the latest news in our world.
Women weep and cling to one another in a Chinese hotel as they await answers from the disappearance of their family and friends. Men attempt to win the battles of wars waged by greed, power, and pride that parade as politics. And then they feature a special on the children of Syria. Continue reading
Machines beeped as the straps monitored the baby squirming around in my belly. Little room left, we were only hours away from meeting him for the first time. We settled in for the long labor ahead… a book in my dad’s hands, needlepointing in my mother’s hands, and an iPhone in Drew’s hands. I leaned back and closed my eyes. Unable to take in all the anticipation, I tried to quiet my mind but I couldn’t help but wonder about the pain and ecstasy of bringing this baby into the world.
Breaking the silence, the nurses came flooding in. Drew stood to read the monitors and my parents emptied their hands as the nurses acted. They were quick, calm, but anxious – turning me on my side and placing the oxygen mask on my mouth. “The baby’s heart-rate is too low – he can’t handle these long contractions.” A needle stuck in my side aided in returning his heart-rate to normal but the words “you will probably need a c-section” lingered in the air. Continue reading
On our way to our table for three, we have already begun our worship. We open the menus and we begin with praise – sharing stories from the latest happenings from the day or tales of the latest mishaps in ministry. We laugh and we nod in understanding. We order our drinks, place our lunch orders, turn in the menus, and move into confession.
Taking turns, we look to one another and ask – “So, how are you doing?” If the first attempt does not open the floodgate, we entertain the response and then prod further with another, “how are you really doing?” Slowly and carefully, one will unpack the latest stresses, fears, and wonders of our lives. The two listening will lean in and remain quiet. Nodding their heads, they hold the words and feelings gently.
Avoiding the traps of advice or dismissal or belittling, we move into proclamation. We seek to shed light on the darkness of our confessions. We try to drain the power of the gremlins that too often rule our thoughts. We ask questions. We look for where hope is growing. We hold in our hands the grief of one another. We mourn our inability to grant another’s dream or fix another’s brokenness. When we cannot find the words, we just sigh. Continue reading