Some weeks ago the Washington Post carried a picture on the front page. The picture is of a little boy who is identified simply as Ahmed. The boy is not crying but weeping. His face is totally distraught. He is attending his father’s funeral. Father was killed by a Syrian army sniper. The person next to Ahmed has his arm around him. Another person reaches over and placing his hand on Ahmed’s head to offer comfort. I ache when I look at the picture.
I asked my good friend to laminate the picture for me. It now hangs on our office wall. I placed it there for a number of reasons.
I am tired of dwelling on the things that divide us. We so easily act like we are so incredibly different. And who wants to be with someone different. “I want to be with people who are just like me.” When I look at the picture of Ahmed, I am reminded that Ahmed and I have far more in common than the things that make us different. Ahmed is grieving for his father. I remember grieving for my father. To grieve is to feel loss. It is to hurt. To grieve is to wonder about the future probably even to fear a future without a father. I’m sure Ahmed loved his father very much. I’m sure there are wonderful memories of his father. Ahmed will have to make decisions about how he responds to his father’s death.
I also put that picture there to remind me that when our government makes decisions to fire drones or drop bombs on those we have identified as our so called enemies, we are dropping them on the Ahmed’s of this world and on his family. Ahmed is my brother in the human family. How could I possibly bless someone firing a drone at Ahmed, my brother in the human family? When will it stop? How long oh Lord?
A third reason for hanging that picture up is to remind me that my words and thoughts about the “love of Christ,” are not only for the neighbors whose names I know and whose faces I see regularly. Our call to extend the love of Christ extends around the world. I have much to learn about how to do that, and what that means for Ahmed and me. Maybe we will learn together in some small way.
Ahmed I pray for you. I’m sure across these last weeks you and your family have been through more than I can begin to imagine. I pray God will keep you in peace and in safety and in love. And I will think of you whenever I look at the office wall. And I will wonder how you are. And I will pray again.