A Visit Home Remembering My Roots
Today’s article is about my recent journey to my home country.
I’m writing on a plane over the Atlantic on my way to my home country of Lebanon. In 1990, at the age of fourteen, I left Lebanon for the United States of America. And until now, twenty-five years later, I’ve never returned.
As I’ve prepared for my visit home, many have asked if I am excited. Actually, I am nervous, and I’m not sure why. So as I make my way over the ocean, I send this letter on the wind to my old home to precede my arrival.
A Letter Home
I left you when I was 14, a land of grand white mountain tops, beautiful beaches, and majestic cedars. A land Jesus visited and the Romans conquered. A land of the Phoenicians, the great civilization that brought us written language. A land ruled by the Ottomans for hundreds of years, and then the French. And now by someone else.
I left a people, of whom I am one. An industrious and gregarious people. A people of generosity and honor, of family and tradition. A people proud, graceful, and tough. A people traumatized and colonized in a region repeatedly ripped and ravished by the violent encounters of religions and civilizations.
I was born at home under shelling. And in the 14 years I called you ‘home,’ you were ravaged by war. You were like an injured lion. Like a beautiful wilted flower. Twenty-five years later, your mountains are still beautiful and your people still vibrant—but struggling.
This letter I send on the wind, to the people of my forefathers. You are in my heart. I pray one day you will rise from the ashes of history in this most tortured intersection of the world. I pray you rise again.
Wistful for Home
I recall visiting Ireland a few years ago, the land of emerald mountains populated with sheep. A land of life, music and sadness. Sadness of a people who faced famine over 150 years ago, many of whom left for the United States. I think of the Irish visiting Ireland, Germans visiting Germany, Japanese visiting Japan. Now we are all American. American in a land we built together. With blood and dreams, with values for a better place. But somewhere deep in our hearts lives the land where we originated.
Why am I nervous? I have asked myself this question repeatedly. I am not sure of the answer. It is not fear. It is not anxiety, but a peculiar feeling I have when I think of seeing the apartment where I was born, the house in the mountains facing the Mediterranean where I was raised, the olive tree I used to climb as a child. I will see my best friend from long ago and talk about another best friend who has since passed.
Whichever home you left and to whichever home you now belong, I hope that we all give dignity to each other’s journey and listen to each other’s stories. We each have one.
Update on my trip: I wrote this article two weeks ago, and last Friday I made it back to Texas. It was surreal seeing the house I grew up in and friends and family I had not seen in 25 years. It will take me months to process the feelings and thoughts that have swirled in my mind since I have been back.
Thanks for letting me share my personal journey with you.
Book I Just Read: Up Your Business, by Dave Anderson
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