Beirut in my heart

Don’t tell me not to pray for Beirut.
Don’t.

As all lebanese descendents, on the 4th of August 2020 I woke up with the news of a massive explosion happening in Beirut, Lebanon. While my kids were playing with their toys and my TV was playing some nursery rhymes in the background, I was there, sitting down looking at the videos and images on my phone… in shock.

Then I checked my messages, making sure there was something from my family overseas… and I felt relieved when I heard my uncle and auntie’s voice messages all reporting being safe… one by one confirmed to be safe… Then the details: “never felt a strong wind like that in my life” “I felt like a small earthquake”… Then the phone calls to other relatives… more details, more videos uploaded, more pictures…  my Instagram and Facebook timeline flooded by firsthand videos and theories… I was in shock looking at all of those raw images…

In the background, my toddlers and baby started to get unsettled since they were hungry and I wasn’t really hands on following their routine… it’s just a weird day. Can’t they understand that something so terrible just happened?! Can’t they just stay still for 5 min?!!… but in reality they have been quiet for over an hour now… I was just there scrolling and scrolling… but achieving nothing… my mind saturated…

I was grateful that my family was safe, even though their houses were a mess. But the images of the hundreds and hundreds of wounded and deaths were piling up in my heart: they were someone’s father, daughter, sister, someone’s jiddo or tayta… So much pain… So much already.

Then I saw a video that shocked me of someone saying that Beirut doesn’t need prayers, that Lebanon needed actions. I got angry. Yes, they need action, but don’t tell me not to pray. Don’t say to the mother or father of the first or second generation of lebanese abroad to not pray: sometimes it is the ONLY thing we CAN do.

But even now, looking at such horror, I can’t pray. I am just so disappointed with the human race… Why? Why it is so hard to love in this world full of hate? Why can’t people treat others with compassion or kindness? It’s not that hard!

I overloaded myself with images (not a very healthy approach, I know) because I felt that if I didn’t SEE everything that was happening, I wasn’t giving the importance to the forgotten people of Lebanon, but by doing so I lost focus on those little ones around me, the 2nd generation of lebanese, the decendants of that broken country: my kids. Your kids too.

Then, within that darkness and loneliness, a small light came through. The wonderful Maronite Church and multiple organizations started putting themselves together and instead of being in the frontline in Lebanon, they became the frontline in our own backyard named Australia. You don’t need to be there to BE there. People came and are still coming together to GIVE to the people in need of Lebanon. These non-profit organisations rose out of the feeling of darkness, frustration, and hopelessness and took us into the light of giving, they brought light into our life by canalizing our sense of not being able to do anything, into a meaningful sense of doing something which makes a big difference.

Our church, our wonderful Maronite church didn’t take long to bring a message of hope. We’ve seen videos going viral in every part of the world of churches being destroyed by the blast. And it was painful. It was shocking. But Jesus died too. The sense of destruction and despair when Jesus Christ died on the cross while the Government washed their hands and disappeared is repeating itself now over and over again… specially now…

But Jesus resurrected from the dead… He is alive. And in the same way, if we keep God in the center of our lifes, we are all going to get through this. We don’t have all the answers now, we don’t know why all of this is happening, we don’t understand how some people in power can be so cruel, so selfish, so… I don’t know… But, we don’t need to have all the answers now… we want them, but we don’t need them. What we DO need is to climb up to God in our despair, offering our prayers to strengthen the people of Lebanon, pray for God to give them the resilience to get through this, because God is the ONLY one who CAN.

We, Maronites, are blessed with the Saints that God has giving us. Let’s look at them. Let’s hold onto them in prayer. They are with us. God is with us in our suffering and if you are abroad being in pain, and feeling hopeless, I can say to you: it’s ok if you can’t DO anything BUT pray, because even if the world underestimate the power of pray, we Maronite Catholics KNOW first hand the power of GOD and the love of Our Lady, St Charbel, and St Rafqa have for our parent’s land and for his children.

We need to Pray more. And don’t tell me not to.

God bless Lebanon
God bless Australia
God bless the world…

And you, mother or father abroad, God bless YOU, because from YOU is being formed the next generation… let us raise them in LOVE and in FAITH.

From Liza, a Maronite Mum

Note: Featured image from Instagram @alleviate.art and used with permission.

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