A Letter Home
In this post, I will share a more personal message than what I usually write.
At age fifteen, I immigrated to the United States of America. I wish I had kept a diary of the day I arrived. I only remember one thought from that day 23 years ago: how clean the streets were.
For me, home became many places. But for the last 20 years, it has been Texas. And as they say in this state, Don’t mess with Texas. I love Texas. I love the United States and the values it stands for. I love its good people. This is now my forever home.
But a part of me will never leave the land of my fathers. The land of snow capped mountains and beautiful beaches, the land mentioned more than seventy times in the Bible, the land that grew the cedars used to build Solomon’s temple, the land that produced one of the most extraordinary ancient civilizations—the Phoenicians. It is also a land that has produced many world famous poets, like Khalil Gibran, and people of science, like Dr. Michael DeBakey.
Like people who emigrated from Ireland, Germany, or England, I too, am very proud of my heritage. I too, have a place in my heart that will always yearn for the mountains I grew up in. Mountains that grew olive trees. Mountains that upheld our home overlooking the Mediterranean.
I come from Lebanon.
If you follow the news, you hear about the chaos that engulfs the Middle East. Well, that’s not new. Let me tell you how my story began. The day I was born, my mother could not leave the house to go to the hospital. Why? Shelling. Bombs were falling on residential areas, a common occurrence during my first fifteen years of life. A common occurrence when you live through a civil war. So, I was born at home. My grandmother Tamam, delivered me.
Many nights as I was growing up, I could not sleep because I was scared. I would have to cover my ears because of the sound of bombs. The realization that I could die at any moment was just too much for my young mind to handle. To this day, I have to cover my ears with bed covers so I can sleep well. Many days, we spent in makeshift shelters we had built with no electricity or running water. In war, these basic amenities are some of the enemy’s favorite and easiest installations to destroy.
When I hear in the news about people being beheaded, I cringe. It strikes me in a personal way because I remember stories of similar happenings when I was growing up. That also kept me up at night, too. Our house was in the mountains of Matn, away from other houses. As I laid in bed, I remember thinking, what if our enemies were scaling the mountain and got to our house first with their knives?
War is ugly. The human heart can be so vile. Evil is ever present, and it has been so since the beginning of time. Adam had two sons. One killed the other. History is drenched with blood and dripping with brutality. Even this blessed country I live in now experienced the deaths of over half a million lives during its own civil war.
As I watch the news of the Middle East, I cannot help but stop and feel sorrow. And I wish to say a few words to the people of my homeland. I wish to toss it into the wind, in the hopes that one day it will land on the beautiful shores of my birthplace. I write these words to a young leader, who one day will grow up. I hope God can use him to bring healing to these bruised and wounded nations.
Just as in any country, any community, any generation, and any sphere, we desperately need leaders in the Middle East to change the tone and the culture from bloodshed to love. From corruption to justice. From darkness to light. From oppression to freedom. From tyranny to an unshackling of the minds.
A Letter Home
To a young lad who climbs a tree,
An olive tree on the hills of Matn,
Whose heart is pure and spirit free,
Turn your ear to my letter.
One day you will grow up and know the truth,
The truth you think you know.
But the truth that your parents preach
Is not truth at all.
The truth that your tribe may teach,
Your village, or your countrymen say,
Is drenched in generational fear
That will keep you imprisoned and gray.
Yes, they may have killed your dad,
Your uncle, or your friend.
But know that when you retaliate,
You continue the killing trend.
What if you start a different song
That extends your heart and hand?
A real and genuine melody
That reaches out to understand.
A song that seeks to understand,
Forgive, and sacrifice.
A song that starts with your soul,
But ends in all your land.
The solution to the hate, no one knows.
No one knows it now.
But I know if you truly dig,
You will find it in yourself.
For I believe in miracles.
Miracles can make you whole.
I believe in a God who heals,
Who can emancipate the soul.
I am not sure who you are,
But I believe that you are there.
You are a lad who will hear my call,
And rise from everywhere.
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