two dollars & fifty cents.

Before today I thought that I could write this
and tie some loose ends to emotionally connect me with a Syrian.
But yesterday, as I read through the stories of eighteen humans
who have been blown out of their homes,
I found myself taking breaks on Pinterest
looking at ‘53 Ways to Decorate the Modern Home for Christmas’
because my heart couldn’t handle the photos of shrapnel embroidered children
for an extended period of time.

But that’s the new skin
their mothers kiss
goodnight.

And I’m disgusted at my ignorance
that I thought I could ever relate to a family of seven
living in a junkyard camp,
the taste of iron thick in their mouth,
as if they’re constantly bleeding out
because I’m a “wanderer” too wandering through
my days until graduation
wondering where I’ll be working
in the land of opportunity…
as a white woman…
with an education…
broke, but with more money than two dollars and fifty cents.

I watch their faces as they share their stories and I see bodies
that are slowly returning to God.
Eyes wanting;
spirits burning;
haunted hearts left floating
in the body bag
that transported them across the sea.
I heard the stories of people who have wandered for years in their modern day exodus.
A Syrian man told me he smelled like he was running out of time,
and I thought that was something I could relate with, but listening to his story,
I realized the stench didn’t stick to my clothes the way it stuck to his,
like a little child pulling on your coat, asking “are we there yet?
Daddy, are we there yet?”

God, are we there yet?

No, son, because
home is the barrel of a gun;
home is the mouth of a shark;

home is a friend to whom we write, “Don’t forget me because you’re the one who has changed.”

I heard the story of a woman who watched a man fall from a roof because he couldn’t stand upright any longer.
It hit me in the same way bodies hit pavement; we all wrestle with God.
Knees knocking, I have stood with that man on that roof
because hopelessness doesn’t discriminate.
And I know that somewhere in your twenty something years, you have stood with him too.

Living days wanting to die are days that will reappear in the history of mankind
until death is defeated once and for all.
Until then we wait.
And we wrestle with God,
trying to pull our future from the same hands we feel like sometimes we’re falling through.

And I want you to understand- trust me; I want to understand better too-
that this is why it’s important.
This is why it is our fight too
because it has never been a war against flesh and blood,
but against fear and hopelessness.
And if I’m being honest,
I can’t always see twenty million refugees fitting in the palms of God’s hands.
It’s easy for me to believe that he has forgotten them;
that he blinked and he missed them.
I want to yell at him, beating my fists in the hollows of his chest,
crying out “where are you in the midst of this?”

Emmanuel; God with us, in the midst of this.
God with the milk tea skinned orphans.
God with the widow in her sorrow filled mourning.
God with the man, wringing his hands, choking on the dust of his country.

God with them.

Jehovah Shammah; God is there.
He is there, in the tomorrows the Middle East will raise its weary head to see. He has gone before and only He knows how to get there.

And so where are we?

If we can’t see Him working in this—are we really in their midst?

And that’s the question I’m left with these days. This is the question that I wrestle with and I ask God, where do I belong in this. I personally believe that He is there in the Middle East, working & bringing people to him by his glorious power, and it’s up to us to meet him there (literally or figuratively) and join him. 

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