I am thrilled to see the people closest to my heart. The people that refuel my heart for life. I am longing, longing for fresh air, rainstorms, the farmers market, miles of farms and green and trees. Blueberry bushes, sitting in the grass, runs in the sunshine (or in the rain), the flavors of home. I got to grow up in a beautiful place. And I’m incredibly thankful I get to visit this summer.
The desert, too, has its own set of gifts. It’s not home. Not yet anyway. Maybe one day. A beauty all its own. Its juicy, sweet grapefruits. Tangy, slightly bitter jirjir served with most any meal Ladies wrapped in their tobes in every color and pattern under the sun. Sweet little kids playing and yammering in Arabic. Men who show their friendship by walking hand in hand down the street. And the younger hip teenage version of this of boys walking with their pinkies linked. The relaxed pace of life and people so kind that I don’t feel unsafe. The orange, dusty glow as the sun sets after each day. Juicy mangoes and guavas. Cloudless skies. Spotted geckoes on walls. The dusty fields where boys play soccer in the evenings. I have never appreciated the refreshment of cold water more in my life. The salty, filling, satisfying fuul that is eaten most mornings for breakfast. The way people look out for each other. Men, young and old, in bright white jalibiyyas with their little white matching hats atop. The way people always seem happy and excited to see you. Little kids who toddle around without shoes–and sometimes without bottoms, too. The rainbow colors of painted houses down any given street. Piles of bottle caps worn into the ground outside of any and every shop. The miracle of any green thing surviving in the ground of this dry land. The great and mighty Nile. Providing fish, a swimming place, and for some a giant bathtub to clean themselves in. The quiet moments in the morning before the world is awake and almost suddenly the red, golden sun rises. The baskets of grains, beans, dates, nuts, and seeds at the suug. The way I am loved and accepted, though I am very, very different from my brothers and sisters here.
Yes, this land has beauties of its own. Many more than what I’ve written here. It’s a different beauty. And like anywhere else in the world, it is a broken one, too. Punctuated by pollution, fighting, and in a religion set in a rigorous set of rules that no man could possibly get right. They don’t know that there is another way. One who takes all their sins and gives grace. An answer rooted in love by way of sacrifice.
Heal this land, oh Lord. And heal America, too. Because we all need you.