The irony of human suffering is that it embeds a zest for life in its victims that cannot be bought, borrowed, nor sold by those who are graciously blessed. As I listen to stories of Damascus, a city I never knew nor had the fortune to love, I marvel at the ability of even its most neglected citizens to raise it up again by conjuring memories of sunny horizons, promising youth, Arabic music, and a love of freedom. The dark and brooding street corners are brought back to life by the scent of fresh bread and hummus, as children dream lost treasures found again.
Today, O sorrowful Damascus, your open wounds are written into news clippings of obituaries mourning your lost and missing children. Vibrantly coloured glass lanterns are shattered, and the merciless bombs triumph over the cheerful derbekkeh. Yet, within a heartbroken conversation between two exhausted refugees sharing a stale loaf of bread, you are brought back to life in all your glory. Neither a sip of mint tea sipped nor a puff of argileh smoked is orphaned of its love for you.
As for us, who never knew you nor reaped the suffering of love for you: we too will remember. For every breath of fresh air that you crave, we will breathe Damascus; and every prayer stolen from the lips of your ancient Churches and Mosques will be pronounced until you are returned.
If only our naïve promises meant much.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Psalm 1:4