Aleppo: A Tragedy

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7) And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58)

I think the longing for a home is universal but not identical for all. I watch the refugees streaming out of Aleppo, their homes bombed, their city shattered. I am not prepared for the wave of grieve. I’ve avoided news of the war in Syria, averted my eyes when TV news showed the people under siege, closed my ears to the wailing of frightened, hurt children. Finally, I clenched fists, and looked. Aging, sick people being pushed in wheelbarrows. Exhausted adults and children sleeping in ditches, unable to continue.

Their vision of a home does not match the ads for nearby high-rise condominiums on Florida beaches. An older mobile home in any of our parks would seem like a luxury because no bombs are being dropped. The plight and the problems of the homeless make frequent headlines in our local newspaper. The topic of homeless people stirs mixed emotions at any gathering, even a Bible study I attend. Homeless by choice, homeless due to addictions, homeless due to mental illness, homeless due to losing a minimum wage job, homeless families, homeless children. Opinions abound but not much agreement on what to do.

But those ragged, hungry, exhausted people streaming out of Aleppo, Syria are not homeless by choice. They are homeless by design, human design and decision, by people wielding power, by those rebelling against dictatorial power, by many who turn the other way while war is waged.

Recently, I told my husband that a roof over one’s head does not mean a home. Not in the USA. Here we add desired qualities to a home, number of bedrooms, the landscape, the neighborhood. Those Aleppo refugees would argue with me. A roof of any kind over their heads, a place without war, a safe space, all that would equal a home, even if it was only a sheet of plastic and a blanket to lay on. Jesus understands this.

Knowing this haunts my soul and saddens my heart especially during this Christmas season where we raise hands in thanksgiving for the birth of the Christ child in a manger.


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© 2014 Patricia Keough-Wilson