Tuesday, August 16, 2011


There’s this weird trend that goes on with ex-pat women here. [Yeah, I’m about to rat you guys out.]

We all get necklaces with our names in Arabic. And wear them. As if we’ll forget…

Well, I resisted. Mostly because all I have to do is say that name is “Saaahhh-rrrrrrrraaaah” [how it’s pronounced in Arabic] and they get it, as large smiles cover their faces, declaring that I am Arab because my name is Arabic. I gain a lot of favor in this and have my parents to thank. [Thanks, Mom. Tell Dad I say “thank you” too.] And although I’ve received not just one, but TWO necklaces with my name in Arabic as gifts, and I treasure them and the friends who gave them to me, I chose differently for myself. I went to a jeweler and had him custom make me a necklace. Here it is:

It says, Al-Rahb Noori.
“The Lord is my light.”

I struggled to find what I wanted for “my Arabic necklace.” I wanted it to be significant to my time here, I wanted it to be something I could legitimately read, and I wanted it to be something I could really stand behind. Something I tell my friends a lot is “God is strong.” When they try to convert me, when they tell me their bad dreams, when they share with me their woes and worries, when they throw food at me or “inshallah” the life out of me for a husband and kids and living here forever. I always respond with, “God is strong.” But in English. The Arabic translation doesn’t satisfy my meaning.

So, with Psalm 27 starting with, “The LORD is my light and my salvxation [no typo, just an adjustment for word searches]; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold [or refuge] of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” and with the fact that this is my twenty-seventh year, I feel like this is my Psalm this year. Al-Rahb Noori.

In a culture so gripped by fear, one that I feel is dull to darkness, I walk and proclaim His light as my own. Al-Rahb Noori. He lights my way. He has lead me here, guides me and reassures me—all with His light. And in a dark place, the Light is more vibrant. The Light is shunned. The Light is run to. Chased after. Pursued. Ignored. Feared. Not allowed.

The friends are seeking Light. In this month where nearly everyone is being religious, even if they aren’t normally, they’re seeking the face and the forgiveness of Allah [God]. Al-Rahb Noori . And one of my favorite things about this month is that there are Rama lights. Everywhere. [It kind of feels like Christmas in Southern California or something. Lights everywhere; snow nowhere.] The lights are for celebrating, for reminding, for advertising: Rama is here! They bring hope, happiness and an air of festivities. I love them.

And as I walk the eerily, empty streets of dinner time, time when everyone is ravenously breaking their fast with family and friends, all I can hear is the clanging of dishes and the absence of their loud voices as they consume their first meal of the day in the sunset. I see the lights. They’re beautiful and yet, make me giggle on the inside and smile on the outside. The crescent moons of Is. and stars blinking on balconies of apartment buildings… Little children awe over them and I’m taken back to my winters growing up in Wisconsin, where my dad would light the insides of big bushes so that when the snow would fall heavy on them, they would look like larger-than-life-lit-up cupcakes in our front yard. “Christmas lights in the desert. In August.” [Some people even keep them up all year long… sounds like some Americans you may or may not know, right?!] I laugh to myself.

But my self-invoked laughter is fleeting and suddenly replaced by the aches of emptiness and sadness, and a stark realization that sometimes I let go of my own hope for them. That while these lights shine and sparkle on the outside, things are dull and dark on the inside… I’m walking these dark streets with all the Rama lights shining, and all I need to know is Al-Rahb Noori.

“You have said, ‘Seek My face.’
My heart says to You, ‘Your face, L
ORD, do I seek.’

Wait for the LORD; be strong,
and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!”

Psalm 27.8 & 14

I want them to say:
Al-Rahb Noori.

Give a Listen! The Yellow Dress Playlist Pick of the Week: Peace, Jennifer Knapp


  1. From a very different context but needing just a much to cling to and rejoice in the Light of Life, thank you for a deeply cheering post!

  2. Thanks for reading, Larissa! (Sorry for my late response.) :) Sarah.


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