Alia Malek's The Home That Was Our Country is a must read for anyone interested in Syria's geopolitical history, the rise of the Al-Assad family dictatorship, the sectarianism that has come to identify Middle Eastern politics, and the ongoing Syrian Civil War waged by the regime versus anyone who dares oppose it. But more importantly, Malek's memoir offers a domestic narrative of Syrian identity told through the feminine lens of her matriarchal grandmother whose home Malek restores and in which she eventually lives. Malek captures the nostalgia for a Syria of orange trees, food vendors on the streets of Damascus, shopping souks that offer a dizzying array of handmade and artisanal goods, and peoples who for centuries have lived together in close quarters despite their ethnic and religious differences. This book is a definitive text for an introduction to Syrian modern history and politics told through the personal perspective of a Syrian family attempting to live beautiful lives amidst so much upheaval, violence, and ongoing uncertainty...
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Friday, April 6, 2018
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
The most amazing food and hospitality! Narges Montazer (Narges is Arabic for daffodil) might be my favorite cook in the entire world. Her Persian food is deliciously sweet and filling, and every time we go to her Daffodil Mediterranean restaurant here in Lincoln, she lets the kids try samples and she overstuffs our bowls so that we eat like kings. Our favorite is the koofteh rizeh (Persian meatballs) with the chelo (saffron rice). We also love the baghali polo (rice with dill and fava beans) and the khoresh bademjan (eggplant, tomato, and chicken Persian stew). But really, anything she serves us is delicious!
خوشمزه - لذیذ
Friday, March 30, 2018
My eyes are blinded from My tears,
Because far from Me is,
Anyone who will comfort Me.
See, all ye people,
If there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow.
O, all ye who pass by the road,
Stop and see,
If there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow.
Monday, March 26, 2018
I just finished reading Stephanie Saldana's memoir, A Country Between: Making a Home Where Both Sides of Jerusalem Collide---the follow-up to her 2010 memoir, The Bread of Angels. Beautiful. Poetic. Gentle. Life-affirming. Honest. Introspective. Poignant. Stephanie and I were students at Harvard Divinity School together. When she left for Damascus on a Fulbright, she thought that she was documenting Syria's proximity as a bordering country to the Iraq war. Never did she realize that she was actually documenting a Damascus on the cusp of war within its own city walls, a Syria that no longer exists after the tragic death and diaspora of so many people she met while studying, praying, and falling in love in this ancient country.
A Country Between has stuck with me in many of the same ways that her first memoir has remained in my memory. Stephanie's descriptions of motherhood; of the liminal spaces between peoples, cultures, religions, and nations; of life in Jerusalem; of generational inheritances; of memories of people and places now vanished and destroyed; of love and marriage and children and violence and war and peace and pianos...all beautiful and profound in the domestic reality of life. As a follow-up, Stephanie now hosts Mosaic Stories, a project dedicated to preserving the cultural artifacts of a Syria in refuge, tragically dispersed around the globe.
Monday, March 19, 2018
Gerard Manley Hopkins' Godhead Here in Hiding
poetic translation of St. Thomas Aquinas' Adoro Te Devote
- Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
- Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
- See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
- Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
- Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
- How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
- What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
- Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.
- On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
- Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
- Both are my confession, both are my belief,
- And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.
- I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
- But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
- Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
- Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.
- O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
- Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
- Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
- There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.
- Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
- Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran—
- Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
- All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.
- Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
- I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
- Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
- And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight. Amen.