Before leaving for Lebanon and Syria a couple weeks ago, I started feeling sick. And then I pulled my right knee getting out of a chair or something. By the time we landed in Beirut my throat was scratchy, my head hurt, and my chest ached from long nights of deep coughing. And sharp pains were piercing through my right knee. And then I got pink eye.
I had become That Traveler – the one who can’t eat the local food because her stomach is already sensitive, the one who experiences second hand smoke by getting searing headaches. The one willing but unable to start early and stay late. Ugh.
I’m home now and I’m happy to report that the pink eye is clearing up.
There are many ways to travel and my favorite kind involves premium rain-shower heads. But uncomfortable travel is about more than needing to find a local pharmacy to stock up on throat lozenges. It’s about accepting brief power outages without drama because the locals deal with them every day. It involves being curious about the unfamiliar. It involves talking with people about their lives rather than assuming we already know.
Especially when one visits a part of the world impacted by pain and trauma, it’s a holy thing to stand beside those neighbors even if this means being uncomfortable. We who call ourselves Christian follow One who not only stood beside those in pain; he was willing to die for them.
When we stand in solidarity – with the poor, the powerless, the minority, the outcast, the threatened – we stand in the image of Christ if only for a moment.
It’s uncomfortable walking among the ruins of a once-beautiful street and remembering what is now lost. But this is real life and we are called to be a part of it, and to welcome those who need to be comforted.
Image of a bombed out apartment building along Al Qal’aa in Homs, Syria last weekend.