One day we’ll all live in peace. I believe it.
It’s truth to me. I’ve read the words and I’m expecting it. A long time ago, it was predicted we’ll one day live in such a state of peace even kids will lead lions around. How crazy is that? A guy named Isaiah said it.
I wish that day was this day.
I wish it for my children and grandchildren. I wish it for all of us. I’m a middle kid, so you know I just want everyone to get along.
Every now and then, though, I get a glimpse of such peace–where for just a moment everything lines up and I see peace perfected. In that moment there is a “knowing” inside me. Something that causes me to say to myself Ahh this is it, right God? This is what peace looks like.
I saw peace on an ordinary day in Germany–on a train to Hamburg.
There were five of us traveling that morning–a two-hour ride from the farm to the city. My son, his wife and their two-year old boy. My husband and me. People boarded and people got off at every stop. Among them, new travelers with different faces than those traveling just a few years ago. Different languages roll off their tongues. They are among the estimated one million refugees who’ve made their way to the country–most of them from the Middle East and Africa.
A mom and her children–a son and daughter–took the seat in front of us. She and her children spoke Arabic as they boarded and settled in for the ride.
I’m thankful for the curiosity of kids. My grandson shyly walked a few steps up the aisle from his seat toward the children–who were chatting incessantly as all children do when they’re excited. Traveling is exciting. For kids, train travel is scavenger hunt, space travel and safari all wrapped up in one.
My grandson inched closer, willing the girl and boy to notice him. And they did.
The peace talks had begun.
The little girl was around eight-years-old I guessed–her brother likely about five. Once our grandson was on their radar, so were we all.
She turned in her seat and found a captive audience in my son. When she learned he was American, she was all the more eager to show off her English language skills–which were quite impressive. She was strong and fiesty, this one. Opinionated too. I was certain she never took no for an answer. Her eyes were alive with curiosity and knowing. She wondered about our grandson, who actually looks very similar to her in color. My son explained his wife and boy were partly African. The girl then told him she and her family were from Syria–she said they were refugees. They were in Germany visiting her uncle, but their home was in Malta.
They continued talking–the little girl and her brother–to my son and my daughter-in-law. To all of us. She talked about all sorts of things–silly things. She talked about school. She was large and in charge, just like my own daughter was at that age. She was smart, spoke two languages and she acted as the interpreter between us and her family for the conversation. It was a role she took quite seriously
Over the seat in front of me, I had direct eye-contact with her mother, who could not speak English. Once, when my son asked the girl’s younger brother a question, the girl jumped in and answered for him. I watched the mom address the girl in Arabic, and I instinctively knew she was telling her daughter to let her little brother speak for himself. When our eyes met, I smiled. She rolled her eyes and shook her head–the universal substitute for the words Oh boy! Kids! What are you going to do? Then, despite our language barrier, we laughed–each of us connected in that moment by nothing more than motherhood–she in her hijab and me in my ball cap. It was enough. It is enough.
I can’t remember who departed the train first, their tribe or ours, but before it happened, the little girl invited us to visit her family–to stay with them in their house in Malta.
Her mom immediately spoke something to her in Arabic.
Then the girl turned back to us and said, “My mother wanted me to tell you it is our way. We’re Syrian and it is our way to invite people. It’s how we are”.
And I thought how alike we are–Syrians and Texans. We invite people over. It’s our way, too. All we hear, though, is about our differences. The thing is, when we keep differences at arm length, they remain differences. But when we let them come near, a layer of sameness is revealed–a common ground. A likeness. A kindred heart.
One day we will all live in peace–like that day on the train. It was an hour of peace perfected.
Ushered in by my little two-year-old grandson who is the most magnificent blend of American, German and African. So fitting.
On my twelve-hour flight home I watched a documentary called Human Flow. I thought about the family on the train as I watched stories of refugees pouring into Europe. I watched the building of crude refugee camps. I wondered which of them the family I met lived in. I was thankful they found a home in Malta. As I watched, I didn’t care if the documentary leaned “left” or “right”. Really. I couldn’t care less.
Because the truth is in the middle–between right and left. It’s where very real people live. It’s where truth lives.
The truth, as I see it, is this. People are scared. People don’t want to live scared. People run toward hope. Sometimes, we’re the lucky ones who get to offer it. And sometimes we’re the lucky ones who get to find it.
Let there be peace on earth.
Let it begin with me.