It’s a rainy fall day here in Boston. The bells at the church across the street just chimed five times, telling me it’s almost evening.
I woke up restless and sad, a soul in chaos. The gloom outside found its way inside and I struggled to find a rhythm. The news has not helped. As you who read this blog know, I’ve long loved the Kurds.
Three years before we moved to the Kurdish Region of Iraq (Kurdistan) we had the opportunity to visit. It was at the height of the ISIS crisis, and displaced people and refugees had altered the landscape of the area. ⠀
Even before that time, we had always been interested in Kurds and the Kurdish story. ⠀
Having the opportunity to live and work in Kurdistan last year was one of the great privileges of our lives. And by all accounts, it ended too soon. We grieve the loss of community and miss the deep friendships we formed every day.
Kurdish people face challenges, threats, and obstacles from within and without. From their own leaders making rash and ludicrous decisions about finances, pay checks, jobs, and governance to outside forces making tragic decisions on invasions and non-interventionist decisions when they have already intervened, Kurdish people in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria suffer. ⠀
Despite this, resilience, hospitality, and sheer joy are hallmarks of who they are as people. This group that spans man-made divisions and borders needs your prayers and help. ⠀
The news of the attacks in Syria have deeply affected the community where we lived and worked in Rania. Our friends are sad, but they are also angry. They feel betrayed. I feel betrayed with them and I have felt it in my soul.
But I am many miles away, and my restless, chaotic spirit is not helping anyone.
I learned long ago that there are some antidotes to restless, fractured souls, so if you are feeling as I was today, here are some ideas.
- Bake bread. The measuring, mixing, kneading, and baking will go from your arms to your heart to your soul.
- Chop fresh vegetables for a soup or stew.
- Clean the house. Scrubbing, scouring, mopping, and dusting – cleaning out the dirt that accumulates can satisfy in immeasurable ways.
- Write a letter to someone. The old fashioned kind that will have them shocked and deeply pleased. Taking pen to paper and writing news or a note of encouragement is a way to take your mind off yourself and focus it on someone else.
- Donate time or money to a local charity. There are so many organizations doing good work in our world. It just takes intentionality to find them.
- Light candles and listen to music. There is something about light and music that pushes against the darkness we sometimes feel in our souls.
- Phone or text someone. There is someone out there who is feeling as chaotic, lonely, or sad as you are. Reach out and offer friendship through your phone.
- Read the Psalms. Even if you are not from a Christian tradition, the Psalms can offer extraordinary comfort. King David who wrote many of the Psalms was up against some bad guys. He regularly cried out to God, begging him to destroy the wicked. His words resonate to this day , offering us a blue print of prayer and communication to God.
- Read a book about someone who made a difference. Right now, I’m reading the book Stronger than Death by my friend, Rachel Pieh Jones. It is an a remarkable story about a woman who broke boundaries and rules to love those at the margins of society. It takes me out of my current chaos and reminds me that loving others is a costly calling that I know little about.
- Dance. Just put on that music and go for it. Besides being good exercise, your body will pour forth endorphins in gratitude.
- Call one of your friends who has a baby and go hold that baby. Blow on its belly and listen to that baby laugh. “A baby is God’s opinion that the world must go on”*
- Read The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman. This book has nuggets of wisdom that surprise and delight. At one point she encourages the reader to look at doing the next right thing for the next ten minutes. It’s an exercise that continues to stay with me.
- Love someone well. “Ordinary love, anonymous and unnoticed as it is, is the substance of peace on earth, the currency of God’s grace in our daily lives.” (Liturgy of the Ordinary, pp 79)
This list is not exhaustive and it’s not extraordinary, but today, as I chopped vegetables for soup, kneaded bread, and scrubbed the dirt off the floors of this little red house, my soul rested and I felt an incomparable peace.