Note: this is not my usual happy-making fare. You are warmly invited to wait for the next post.
Most days, I spend a little time connecting with some of my refugees friends. A little hello, a little checking in on each other, a little brainstorming, too.
Today, as I am focused on a project, I hear the “ping” of WhatsApp. Instead of a regular emoji-enhanced “hello!!!!” in steadily improving English, I see a couple of YouTube links.
Clicking on the first one, I am faced with what seems to be the news in a language I am guessing to be Farsi.
Since I only know how to say “sit down please” and “popcorn” in Farsi, I am thinking that it is likely I will miss the message, so I inquire.
Within seconds, I get the gist.
My young friends fell upon the news - and filming - of two women from their birth country, being stoned to death for the same crime that had caused the two of them to flee a year ago: being in love with the wrong person. Being in love with someone that was not the family’s choice. Thus the death.
I can feel the tension across the line. The re-traumatizing. The gratitude, too.
They had told me before that this was what they were running from. They had shared with me their story and I have stayed on the phone at times while her tears ran their course: tears for loving and missing her mom so much and tears for knowing that this very mom - whom I am pretty sure loves her also - had vowed to kill them both if they ever saw them. A version of hell.
Today, they wanted me to watch the video. They said that they wanted me to know.
And because they so rarely ask me for anything, I did. From the safety of my home, my cat by my side and much more prepared than I was last January in the small windowless room where I lost my emotional virginity, I watched. With my new eyes and my re-arranged heart.
When I was done, we talked a little. He told me that they had not wanted their future children to ever have to risk this. That in fact, he would never speak to them about what he had seen, of the way his father had died and more. He also told me that “this is not our religion. I will not accept that this is our religion. This is a culture. A terrible culture.”
He then told me that he would not show me this stuff again.
I suggested they watch a silly movie before going to bed.
Tonight, I am quiet. I am grateful to have been allowed one step closer to something I do not understand and yet is part of me, because I am part of them, of all of us.
There are stuff I will never understand and this is one of them. There are stuff I don’t even want to try and understand.
A big fat robin is gorging on berries outside of my window as I write. My cat is sleeping, the sky is getting a little darker. I am hoping that my friends are also asleep, together in their temporary home. I am hoping that many children are tucked in near their parents, simply and safely. That hearts and nervous systems will heal.
I am also hoping that the moments of peace will outnumbers the numbers of … the rest. Especially the stuff I don't understand.
PS: I will be doing a one hour talk online about my experience on Lesvos. The places where unexpected JOY lurks, too :)
Friday, July 6 at 5 pm PST . On Zoom. Register in advance to get the link, ok?