Washing Cars in Wartime – A Guest Post

Just two days ago ISIS released a horrific video of the death of Jordanian pilot Lt Moaz al-Kasasbeh. While ISIS is known to be brutal, this death showed a new level of cruelty, of inhumanity. If man is indeed made in the image of God then those who commit these acts are wounding their creator and I have no doubt, he weeps. The pilot was actually killed January 3rd – a full month before the video was released; a month where negotiations were going on between ISIS and Jordan for his release. The duplicity is nauseating. My friend Laura lived in and loves Jordan and it is through her that I have followed much of this news.

Today’s post is by Laura. It is not about Jordan or the pilot, but it is about war, about violence, about dignity — and human dignity is what I want to think about in the midst of this. Dignity of the innocent, the dignity God gives us in drawing us to himself, in calling us his children. Thank you Laura for this beautiful piece. 



Washing Cars in Wartime
“Syrian rebels attacked army roadblocks in Midan district in the heart of Damascus on Thursday to relieve pressure on outlying rebel strongholds being pounded by air strikes and artillery, opposition activists said.
“Assad’s forces responded by bombarding the densely populated commercial and residential district, situated just outside the Old City walls, killing a woman pedestrian and a worker in a car wash, they said.”
– Reuters, 8 November 2012


In the morning, he rubs his palms through his
hair and swings his legs over the edge of the bed.
At the door, like sentries, stand two pale blue rubber
boots. Knee-heighted waders, he puts them on.

In the morning, he makes his tea and, sipping, walks to
punch in the numbers for the punishing measure.
The tea is hot. Tit for tat, tit for tat, tit for
tat, tit for tat—the numbness is
learned, drummed into minds by
years, obedient generations, of slavish fear.

He marches in his boots to his post,
puddles and soap. The cars roll in.
Astonishing that cars must be washed
during war, bodies of metal,
gleam and polish.
The rain of weaponry makes nothing clean.
Cars must be washed.

Next he marches down the hall to report to the next
goon up. Breathtaking the fruitful efficiency of war
and its stillborn child, death.
Rolling like a wave over the weeping face of
the earth, deracinating life from its soil.
Life scrubbed lifeless.

The soapy water runs red into
the gutter drain. Down in the valley, the cracked
earth drinks the blood of patriots and villains
in equal measure. A green patch of grass,
a bold rebuke that life will not finally succumb and
bow to the instruments of death.
The emptied rubber boots in melted pieces
held more personified dignity in one car washer than a thousand
sorry soles of the regime.


LauraAbout the author: Laura Merzig Fabrycky is a freelance writer and editor, and serves as editor of Missio, a blog of The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture. Her writing has been published in Books & CultureThe Review of Faith and International Affairs, the Foreign Service Journal, and Good Housekeeping Middle East; and her poetry has appeared in Glass, her church newsletter, and family Christmas cards. A diplomatic trailing spouse and mother to three young children, Laura has lived in Doha, Qatar; Amman, Jordan; and currently resides in the fever swamps of the Washington, D.C. area

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