Tuesday, December 20, 2011

So This is Christmas

Christmas is beautiful. It really is. A few hymns strike me so deeply:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining…
Born that man no more may die!
Let every heart prepare Him room…”

Last year, The Story was more understandable for me in some ways, being that I was in the region and cousin culture to that of my Holy Book. I started to see what a shame it would be to be Mary, or her family, or Joseph. And how terrible it would be to travel to your “hometown,” but have no relatives to take you in. [Unheard of.] Or what it might be like to actually see shepherds leave their flocks. [At night.] And Mary, without medication, just “treasured it all up, pondering it in her heart.” [And accepted visitors...]

I began to see that this momentous night, which changed the whole course of history, which has also written MY story, was intricately planned and probably… really quiet. Apart from the angels puttin’ on a show out in the “fields nearby,” what else was a big production? Nothing. There was just another new baby to some new mother in a barn.

On that spring evening [don’t argue with the scholars—just because we celebrate it in December, don’t mean that’s when it happened…], in that manger, no gifts were exchanged, no extravagant meals prepared, no trees decorated. Only the angels were singing and Joseph HAD to be thinking about how he was going to register his “betrothed” instead of his “wife” and… their son? [Whoopsies…]

I’ve been to Bethlehem and have drunk tea in Nazareth, while the Call sounded simultaneously with CH. bells ringing. They’re not the towns they once were. No, they have neon signs, pizza joints and checkpoints, as well as people of three different faiths. All three groups of followers claim to be “right” and know “the truth.” And they fight. We fight. In His hometown, we’re fighting. At His birthplace, we’re fighting. We’re fighting and we’re hurting. We throw stones, do major damage with advanced technology and raise our children to hate and fear one another. Yes, we’re doing this.

I walked down streets where the air was so static and thick I thought I’d die under the tremendous weight of the tensions and anxieties of… people, of humans from not so different ancestors or languages. It’s a homeland to both of them… all of them. To us.

I’m not pushing a political agenda: Just voicing a human plea.

Indeed, our world is still pining away in sin and error. The majority is feared for their few radicals’ actions. My ancestry is freshly remembered for their crusades, as if it were just last week. And every day, checkpoints are restricting people from living their lives, dreaming their dreams and hoping their hopes.

No doubt, my own little world has been flipped upside down. I’ve had an old, sweet, wrinkly grandmother take my face in her hands, inches from her remaining teeth and smothering kisses. My friend translated something that sent my head spinning: “Ya Shagra, inshallah, you’re going to [my hometown]. Please, go to the market and follow the road towards the mosque. Take the third right. And there you will see it: a two-story house that was my home. Please, inshallah, go to the door and explain to that family, inshallah, that they can keep my dishes, but ask, because you are American, peace be upon you, plead with them to return to me my wedding blanket. They can have my land and they can have our house, but just go get my blanket, ok, my love? My mother made it for me.”

I remember watching my own reflection in her deep well of brown eyes as I fought back tears. All I could do was kiss her back and agree to accept her assignment. And as you leave, inshallah, ya Shagra, take a lemon off the trees in the front and throw it at a window. And then run, my love, run. God be with you.” She laughed and I cried.

I never went to her house. I never intended to, either. But if I can pinpoint specific events where my heart was drastically changed in the desert, this would be one of them.

Let’s remember that He was born so that man no more may die. And that it’s a great part of our work that we dream, hope and pray for every heart to prepare Him room. His birth reconciles us to Him.

I’m hoping for also, one day soon, inshallah, to each other.

“Merry Christmas, World
--From Bethlehem Ghetto”

Merry Christmas.
Wherever you are in the world: Merry Christmas.

[A great blog—one written from a position
I hope my heart is moving towards

1 comment:

  1. I like your writing! You have a gift. I am [working] in Brazil and noticed that you picked the book, "The Alchemist" by Paul Coelho. Did you know he is a famous Brazilian and it is common knowledge that he a spiritist although he calls himself a Catholic?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulo_Coelho

    Thought you should know this. Sincerely, Nedra Dugan

    Hi Nedra! Sorry, I had to repost your comment. I try to be reeeeaallly careful about what words are used on this blog--I want it to be "everywhere friendly" and not pose any internet/access problems for people in countries like where I was. So please just notice what word I replaced for you. :)

    Paulo! Yes. I DID know he is Brazilian. I love his writing--especially "The Alchemist." I didn't know about his position on any afterlife. It's always my hope and my strong stance that God is strong and is leading us all on a journey. I hope for Truth to always win--because it most certainly does in the end. :)

    Thanks for reading, Nedra!! I love "meeting" more and more of my readers. Your comments and virtual presence are quite an encouragement to me. Thank you!!

    Love, Sarah.


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