Visitors from Beirut
My friends who I wrote of before–Clare and John, and their son Georgio–are now “home” from Beirut, Lebanon. They were in church worshiping with us this morning. There are staying with John’s mother for the week, along with one of John’s sisters (the situation is complicated by the fact that John’s father, George, who was in church for the first time in a long time, lives in a home for people with Alzheimer’s).
Of course, it was wonderful to have them safely with us today. But all they want to do is to go home.
The students from AUB all got out safely, as well. Some of them got out over land. My friends tried to get out that way, too, but it was too difficult. And too dangerous.
Clare’s father lives in Santa Barbara, and she looks forward to the rare opportunity to visit him while they are here. John “has some writing to do,” and a friend has offered him both workspace and living space in Chicago, so they will be spending some time there in the near future.
But overall, they don’t know what it is they will be doing.
All they want to do is to go home. And who can blame them?
If war were to break out in Southern California and my hometown were to be bombed to the point that the only thing that made sense were for me and my family to leave, then that is what I/we would do. But I know that I would feel incomplete until I could return home.
[By the way, I don’t think that the idea of a war breaking out in Southern California–or any other place in the US–is unfathomable. People can only be pushed so far and so hard until they will start pushing back. How far are we from that point? Who knows… But it’s all within the realm of possibility.]
On the other hand, I would certainly like some kind assurance that there would be a “home” to return to. An assurance that Clare and John don’t have at this point.
And so we prayed. We pray for peace every week. A special, dedicated prayer for peace that leads us into the closing of the service. Something that we can then do our best to try to carry out into the world with us. This morning we prayed a prayer excerpted from Arthur Waskow’s Kaddish. Maybe next week and the week after that and the week after that we should pray the same prayer…
May the names of all who have died in violence and war
be kept alight in our sight and in your Great Name,
with sorrow that we were not yet able
to shape a world in which they would have lived.
May your Great Name lift Itself
be still higher and more holy
throughout the world that You have offered us,
a world of majestic peaceful order
that gives life to the Godwrestling folk
through time and through eternity.
You who make harmony
in the ultimate reaches of the universe,
teach us to make harmony
within ourselves, among ourselves –
and peace for the Godwrestling folk,
the people Israel;
for our cousins the children of Ishmael;
and for all who dwell upon this planet.