A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive... And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us try then what love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.
William Penn

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone...
George Fox

Monday, April 1, 2013

Last week, in Antakya

I skipped this post because I was denied entry into Israel a few days ago, so I thought I'd write about that first. But Antakya was important so I'll write about it now.
Also, an apology for the unedited last post. I'm in a sudden hurry to find new hosts here in Egypt and get ready to make the walk to Cairo, what with my new sudden plans. I've also got a lot of hosts to cancel in Israel, so I'm too busy to edit anything. Thanks Haifa security team. Ahem. By the way guys, if you're interested and reading (I doubt that of course) I'm going to try again.

So back in Antakya a week ago I stayed  in the Catholic Church guest house for pilgrims and at Sister Barbara's guest house as well. sister Barbara has been there for some thirty years preaching and praying for peace. Her chapel is non-denominational, and all are welcome, Muslims and Quakers included. She's got a beautiful peace wall with peace written in dozens of languages, and the windows in the chapel each represent a religion or group of religions: the first represents Buddhism and the Eastern religions, the others represent Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Her service is a mixture of music enhanced with her guitar playing and the angelic voices of two people who work there. There are poetry readings and readings from Sufism and any other spiritual voice on peace. There is a five minute silent prayer time for world peace. I really enjoyed attending.
 Another regular attender while I was there was a young woman from Poland named Dominika. The NGO she works for goes "inside" (meaning Syria) to do their work. You would never know from Dominika's cheerful countenance that she works literally on the front line to help people in need. She was a model to me and she is also a model to the world for what the humanitarian aid worker should be. Unlike some of the journalists and other NGO workers I met there, she has no cynicism regarding an individual's efforts at peacemaking. She offered me great encouragement. After Easter she'll be back "inside" doing the same work.
Before the meal at Sister Barbara's there is breaking of bread, also for peace, and an opportunity for visitors to share a peace poem or song. Selda, my peace mentor from Ankara, sang a nice Native American song for us. She had come down hoping to find some work for us with one of the many NGO's in the area working to help Syrian refugees.
Unfortunately, finding such work on such short notice was difficult, though 'Save the Children' may have been able to put us to work had we been there longer. Instead, we decided to try to help the refugees on our own.    We visited the small city of Reyhanli, just a kilometer or two from the Syrian border to see if there was anything we could do to help in a very small way. We saw no people in any desperate need there, though there were many Syrians living in poverty. Selda bought some bread to feed a few hungry ducks in a pond and some children approached with their grandfather. We gave them some bread to feed the ducks but they ate it instead. Selda then played with the children without any reserve; the image I have of the children giggling with delight at her tickling them, and in the background a flock of sheep crossing the road is etched into my mind. Selda is a peacemaker in every way, and I think her selfless gift community manner is more a model of peacemaking than the businesslike way of some of  the professional peacemakers. Selda brings people happiness.
The next day Selda decided to buy some educational toys for these same children. Selda had collected some money from her friends for this 'mission' of ours, and we went back to Reyhanli to find our kids. Once we found their house we were invited in, and of course their Arabic family wanted us to stay for dinner, but we had to go as the last bus back was going very soon. They gave us some hot bread, and arranged for a man to give us a ride to the bus stop on his motorcycle. We caught the last bus and felt happy that we had done what we had.

That night Selda took the bus back to Ankara, and the next day Shu and I hitchhiked to Iskenderun. Our hosts there were kind and generous, as is normally the case, and they gave us a home until my ship came in.

1 comment:

  1. Of course we are interested and reading