The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Looking back, Stepping forward

I've realised, that at this time, when one year gently slips into another, I find myself reminiscing about the ghosts of bygone new year's eves. The memories come to me, in no particular order, an intangible collage of snapshots and a jumble of half-forgotten whispers that pour out of some forgotten fragment of my mind. Or is it our soul that remembers? I know not.

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But I do know, that amidst the memories of parties and mayhem, of spumante and pink champagne fizzing out of hastily uncorked bottles as my friends and I sang (or tried to) Auld Lang Syne, while balloons floated gently over our heads and we popped Baci chocolate (not sure why, but we did) into our mouths, there are the equally memorable quiet moments. Moments of intense clarity, that stand out, proud and tall, like solitary fir-trees on a barren, snowy expanse. Moments of silence on the shores of the Mississippi river in the non-descript town of La Grange (MO), where the only sound my husband and I could hear was the gentle lapping of the water of that mighty river, as a feeling of all-pervading peace quieted our hearts. Or the year we drove to the chapel at the edge of the cliffs, in an equally non-descript hamlet, this time in Malta, and listened to a mighty gale usher in the new year. Years when all we wanted, all we needed, was candle-light and mulled wine and the closeness o family - the perfect ending to any year.

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But it doesn't end there, on the eve; dawn signals the start of something new, offering fresh hope and endless possibilities. This year is spiraling out of our reach and we stand with one foot in the shadows and the other in the light. We will soon turn our calendars to a new month and a new year, literally taking a symbolic leap of faith into the unknown. Perhaps it is the most courageous thing that we do each year as, unthinking and unknowing, we step forward into a new adventure.

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This will be my last entry for 2016. I would like to wish all my readers and their families a wonderful 2017.

Location: Ghar Lapsi, December 2014

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

So, this is Christmas

Or is it?

There are barely any gifts under our tree, I haven't baked a single cookie and the weather remains as warm as spring.  I procrastinated and procrastinated, because at the back of my mind, there's always enough time to get everything done. Then last week I fractured a toe so, even if I wanted to, I cannot do anything fast. Gifts I've ordered online are not showing up (is it just my impression that snail mail seems to get slower every year?), one set of lights on our Christmas tree stopped working after (of course, when else?) we had got all the decorations up and I just get this feeling of chaos surrounding me.

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But it doesn't have to feel like this. It shouldn't feel like this. Because Christmas is not about anything material. Or about lights and parties and food. Christmas is about an inner sense of peace, serenity and joy. The fact that it has become something of a nightmare is because we've got our priorities in a twist. Worse than that, we seem to be going through life with our eyes wide shut, mostly indifferent to the thousands of homeless and displaced people. And I know that sometimes we have to shut things out, for our own sanity and peace of mind. I do it nearly all the time. But maybe at this time of year we should just remember how lucky we are instead of stressing about the little things. How lucky that we have so much when so many thousands have so little. It may seem to be impossible that we can do anything about their plight. But, believe me, there are ways by which we can make a difference to others, without having to leave the comfort of our homes or go too much out of our way. Christmas Day 001 (46)

So today I want to introduce you to dear friends of ours, Ben and Eve. We first met  this lovely couple in 2012 during a baseball game (where else would you meet Americans in Malta?). They lived here with their three children and did missionary work amongst the  refugees that made it to our shores in rickety boats. They are probably one of the most giving couples we have ever met. The fact that our sons were very close in age just helped cement the friendship more quickly. in 2013, they went on to have a fourth child - Liliana Joy - who was born with a very rare genetic disorder. Undaunted, Ben and Eve continued their work while extending their friendship to as many people as they came in contact with. We had some fun times: roof-top barbecues, birthday parties (Eve always came up with the most original ideas), cozy talks around a crackling fire during cold winter evenings. We felt we had made friends for life.

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Then, in October 2015, Liliana died peacefully in her sleep. While we knew she was now in a much better place, we were devastated for her parents and her siblings. Within three weeks, the family made the decision to move back to the US. We were sad to see them go but life is what it is. Change is constant. We keep in touch as best we can via Facebook and e-mail. Which is how we know that Ben and Eve are still extending their big heart out to those that are hurting, to those that need all the love they can get. Their own grief and loss just seemed to make them more in-tune with those who were hurting more or were more vulnerable than them. Last summer, Ben and a friend recorded video footage of a people group living in Northern Iraq called the Yazidis. The Yazidis have been persecuted since the 18th and 19th centuries and, more recently, by Al-Qaida and ISIS. In October 2016, Ben and Eve founded the Peace Lily Foundation, a non-profit organization which aims to raise awareness of, and support for, those in need of a restoration of hope, peace, prosperity and innocence. And they have a dream. Their dream is to buy weather-proof tents for 47 Yazidi families who have nothing in this world, let alone presents under a Christmas tree or cookies baking in the oven. So, if any one of you can help, I ask you to donate to this worthy cause. You don't even have to leave your home. Each tent costs $300 but any amount will do. You may donate here. To learn more about the Peace  Lily Foundation go here or to the official  Facebook page here.

Individually, we are one drop. Together we are an ocean. Ryunosuke Satoro

Peace Lily Foundation


Just for the record, Ben and Eve did not ask me to write this or to share their dream. They do not even know that I did. I just felt compelled to do it. And if any of you want to share this post or spread the word about the Peace Lily Foundation, please feel free to do so.

Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Yerushalmi Talmud 4:9, Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 37a.

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