Tonight, we hung out on the porch and she gave me the long version of a few of her classes, told me about barely missing the Ace on her first Anatomy and Physiology test and then, she read me a paper she wrote this week. She proceeded to discuss its meaning and content. I asked her if I could share it and she said yes. (I have deliberately not shared here about our work overseas but it being this particular weekend I thought it apropos and what she wrote puts darkness in its proper context. Life's darkness is always a backdrop showcasing the brilliance of the one true Light)
That being said, her writing never ceases to move me, and I always end up amazed at the bits of life God uses to speak to her. Glimpses of Christ's workings in a child's life is indeed, is a most priceless, glorious gift and a favorite sustenance to this momma.
September 8, 2011
Perhaps you’ve heard of Iraq. Perhaps you’ve heard a stiff collared, clean cut news reporter describe the car bombs and tribal strife and American lives lost. Perhaps you’ve even heard about that country’s notorious dictator and the hundreds of thousands he slaughtered. If you have, you know the land of my childhood. My parents did missions work in Iraq, and, as their daughter, I spent six of my most formative years in its obtrusive culture. In my tenth year, shortly after Iraqis deposed Saddam, I visited a newly opened museum. Amid all the horrors I saw that day, a hall way sobered me the most.
A forlorn Kurdish elder guided my family and me through the battered museum. He imparted that Saddam had used the sand colored, concrete structure as a prison. Bullet holes indented every square inch of the exterior, for as he relayed soldiers had used it as a holdout near the end of the war. As I walked, my eyes met bars, rags, and rubble. The guide took me to the torture chambers and described how men were strung up and electrocuted. Next, he showed me the cells, the concrete boxes into which throngs of men had been packed. Saved till last, the hall way seemed to promise reprieve.
Dark, long, and crooked, the hallway slithered out of view. As I stepped over the painted threshold, the black belly closed in around me, constricting me within its powerful walls. The darkness squeezed the air out of the room. To my relief, dim light pooled in lamps attached to the ceiling. The bowl-shaped lanterns so wholly contained the light that darkness yet obscured my slight waist and legs. Around me, on the satin draped walls, hung tiny, glittering shards — fragments of mirrors reflecting slivers of my image back into the darkness. A rough Kurdish voice broke my stupor: “Yhes, Yhes, zheese mirrors, see, zheese mean a dead, a dead killed by Saddam.” Understanding slowly cut into my dull consciousness — each sparkling piece represented a life Saddam had shattered. Gravity tore at my bowels, ripping them earthward. It shoved my shaking shoulders down, further down towards the floor. The weight of each Kurds’ death crushed me, as if each victim had joined me, squeezing into the narrow hall way. I later learned that nearly four hundred thousand shards must have surrounded me, suspended in that hall.
For the first time in my young life I understood. I understood the concepts philosophers ponder and laymen try to forget. I understood what it meant to be broken, to have the mosaic of your life shattered, to die. Here I stood, a story yet untold, a yarn yet unwoven, but how long would I remain whole? How long until I joined their number and hung upon the satin wall? Every shaft of light each piece reflected promised I would not long remain unbroken. The enclosing darkness seeped through my skin and extinguished the light of naivety that had once burned so brightly within me. I could not rage against the dying of the light — death and darkness had defeated me. The hall way and mortality were the only reality. But then a thought flickered in my weak and weary mind. Perhaps, thought I, perhaps these mirrored walls reflect beyond my shadowed face. Perhaps an image larger than my own, larger than the hall way, looks back upon me. These many broken pieces, I considered, imperfectly reflect the image of a living God and my piece, just as fragmented as the others, already hangs upon the wall, already reflects divinity. Surprised by the joy of life in death, I realized that the mirrors would not long remain broken. They would be forged anew, and the darkness would flee. Everlasting life awaited me.
Perhaps my experience that day impacted me so deeply because I saw more than a hall way. In a dark hall way, in a dark country, in a dark world, I saw my soul, and I understood that even in its brokenness the light of God shines forth, and that that light will never die.