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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