“Who Among You can Put Christina Back in the Arms of Her Mother?”

Sometimes a story emerges that captures all other stories. It becomes the iconic story, the one that explains everything. And everyone knows the story.

Everyone from Qaraqosh knows the story of Christina.

Christina was three and a half years old when she was literally snatched from her mother’s arms as they were fleeing ISIS. This was one year ago on August 6, 2014.

On the first evening I was in Iraq, we had the opportunity to see a play. The play was about the exodus of people from this city and was directed and acted by a group of actors from Qaraqosh.

At one point in the play, a little girl skips out on stage with a doll. The music is light as she skips around, safe in her world. As quickly as she comes, she vanishes, and only the doll is left on stage. The actor’s pain is acute as he shouts her name, and then asks the question: “Who among you can put Christina back in the arms of her mother?”

The agony of the audience is palpable. This is their city, and she has become their Christina. Who will put Christina back in the arms of her mother? Who will redeem this situation? Who will right the wrong? Who will defeat evil?

There are hundreds of questions wrapped up in the one.

It’s been a year and how much longer will the people of Qaraqosh have to wait?

The cry of the people of Qaraqosh is the cry of people through the centuries who have been victims to terrible evil. It is the cry of the exile, the cry of every mother who has lost a child.

It’s the cry of the Psalmist How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.” Psalm 13

But the play didn’t end on those words. Like the Psalmist, who says “But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation,”  the play ended with olive branches, a symbol of peace. The play ended with hope for return. The play ended with resurrection

The play represents much of what I saw during my short time, and I am challenged daily by the hope I saw in those displaced in Iraq.

For even as they wonder who will put Christina back in the arms of her mother, they continue living day by day, in hope of return.


Oh, the Places We Go!

I’m headed to Iraq today. With friends visiting, work, and the chaos of life it has been difficult to focus and get ready. The trip came about so quickly and is a surprise gift. But it also has me trembling – there has been too little time to prepare. So I go, knowing I have little to give, much to learn, and at heart – I am a big baby. But I’m also a willing baby. So my prayer is that I cling fast to the God I love and stay focused and willing.

In the midst of all this, I found the perfect picture to hang on my wall at work. I hang it to help me dream and then focus. It’s a balance isn’t it? That need to be fully present, and yet not forget to dream. Dr. Seuss captured the dream well in his beloved book Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  As I head off to Iraq, I think of the book and I smile.   

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”

“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. but mostly they’re darked.
But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?”

To give you a sense of what is happening, our small team of four will be in the city of Erbil. I will be helping at a clinic as well as assisting with an art therapy program for teenage girls, all of them displaced from their homes and communities. It will be hot – weather forecasts are 115 degrees and full sunshine during the day, going down to around 82 at night. It’s a dry heat like Phoenix, and I’m reminding myself how much I love Phoenix. My husband has been to Erbil so has given me a briefing on what to expect, but we go knowing two things: flexibility is a must and we are visitors and learners.

On Saturday evening we received a beautiful travel blessing from our priests, Fr. Patrick and Fr. Michael. The church overwhelmed us with baby and hygiene kits, put together for us to take to refugees and internally displaced people. We feel deeply loved and supported in our journey through Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church. Though we are the ones to physically go, they are the ones who walk beside us in prayer and love. More and more, I am overwhelmed by the mystery of the Church and the community of believers within.

And so the blog will be quiet while I’m gone. I have a lovely guest post from a reader, and I hope to write a quick post at some point, but for the most part, it will be a still space and I will debrief when I return.

Thanks so much for reading and caring. 

Myriam’s Story – A Story of Hope

On this Wednesday I am posting a powerful video. I hope you’ll take a few minutes and watch it, and in watching be deeply moved and encouraged. Thank you!

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” Isaiah 11:6 – NIV

See more of Myriam’s story here.