Kundalini Splendor

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Patricia in Lebanon 

For the past two weeks, Patricia has been in Lebanon visiting the family she befriended in Detroit when the father (Rabih Haddad) was taken into custody and ultimately deported, though no charges were ever filed against him. Here is a recent entry from her blog site, written only a few days ago.(See www.windchimewalker.blogspot.com for her blog--a site which she maintains in addition to her journal and other sections of her website.)

Thursday, November 17, 2005
It's always the people

In a couple of hours it will have been one week since I arrived in Lebanon. So much has happened that it feels more like a year. And when I write that I'm not just referring to activities and sights, but to inner changes--seismic shifts--that have transformed me in ways I'm only beginning to see. For as wondrous as it is to be in a country that is so different from my own, with its unusual tastes, sounds, smells, sights and physical experiences, what is touching me most deeply is the privilege of living day-to-day as a beloved member of Rabih and Sulaima's family. Nothing could have prepared me for this. And when I go home, nothing can prepare me for how much I will miss them, each one in his and her own way.

These past two days have been full of surprises. The first came yesterday morning when Sulaima awakened me to ask if I would write a biographical blurb and a title for a presentation Rabih has arranged for me to give on Saturday afternoon at The Muntada, a center for dialogue between Christians and Muslims near the American University of Beirut downtown. We'd talked about this possibility a few days ago, but to be honest, I'd doubted it would happen, mainly because there was so little time to arrange it. But Rabih is a close friend of the director and after telling him about me and what I'd done for Rabih during his imprisonment in the States, the director said he thought it would be valuable for people to hear what I have to say. Although their schedule was quite full, he said he'd do his best to work me in. And he did.

I'm calling my presentation, "Not In My Name: An American Anti-War Activist Speaks." I sat right down and wrote it as soon as Sulaima told me it would be happening. I've now read my first draft out loud to Rabih and Sulaima, 15 year-old Sana, 13 year-old Sami and 11 year-old Rami. They all liked it very much; Sami, Rami and Sana's responses were especially gratifying. "Wow! Whew! That's amazing!", said Rami. "Awesome!", said Sami, "Did you really write that yourself?!!". Sana said, "You said JUST what the people in Lebanon need to hear!" These kids sure know how to make their Aunt Patricia feel good. To me, the most interesting part of the whole event will be the opportunity for dialogue that is being built into the program. I can't wait to hear people's comments and questions.

But Saturday isn't the only opportunity I'm encountering to enter into dialogue about world events with the people of Lebanon.

Last night, after a very successful shopping spree on Beirut's Hamra Street (Rabih's old "hood"), we went to visit his grandfather, uncle, mother and aunt. At 95 years old, Abdullah Kobersi may have lost his sight and most of his hearing, but this lawyer, poet, philosopher, author still has a sharp mind, quick wit and global consciousness. He speaks Arabic, Spanish, French and English fluently and has visited and lived all over the world. He said if he were to move to the United States, he'd want to live in Boston. I think he was there as recently as 1993.

Then today Sulaima invited her women friends to come meet me. All of them have lived at least part of their lives in the United States and she felt they'd be interested in hearing my perspective on what is happening there during the Bush era. What an interesting discussion we had! Not only have these women lived in America but they are true citizens of the world. One is originally from Nicaragua and another from Greece. Two of the women brought their 18-19 year-old daughters. All these women are interested in and informed about world events. Sulaima says they were surprised to meet an American who is so critical of her government. Of course we already knew they were seeing nothing about people like me on CNN, the only American news station they get here. At every opportunity I'm trying to let people know that there is strong active resistance to George W. Bush and his policies in the United States. This feels like an important part of what I can bring to Lebanon during my time here.

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