Executing Birth

Today [April 9] is my dad's birthday, he died on January 26. The song that's been going through my head about him the last month or so is "The Mercy Seat". It overlays with my dad in many ways. World weariness at the end, a pleading to be with Jesus. It's about a man being executed while maintaining that he is innocent, though he admits at the end of the song that he lied, but not about what. The Mercy Seat my dad climbed into was his mother's grave, with her bones now upon his abdomen.

Dad was born in 1932 on the same date as the Zionist massacre of Palestinians at Dir Yassin, a major event that helped force hundreds of thousands, dad included, to become refugees -- the catastrophe of 1948. It was also the date of the fall of Baghdad in 2003.

And this year, his birthday is on Palm Sunday -- both Catholic and Orthodox. That happens every hundred years or so. If he were around on this particular April 9, I have no doubt that -- assuming he wasn't focusing on a myriad of health issues -- he'd be saying everyone is talking about the attacks on the Coptic Christians in Egypt, but the US just attack Assad in Syria, who has been very protective of Christians. I went to Damascus with my dad in 2007 and we stayed at a convent there, a few days that still affect me greatly both politically and culturally.

Dad was fond of at times pointing out the elephant in the room, that critical thing that most everyone is ignoring. A friend, Edmund, who knows Arabic poetry well came by my office the other day and I showed him one of my dad's folders of clippings of Arabic poetry and he translated several for me. One that really captured my dad at his best was about how an innocent man was being executed and people are gathering at the square to view the killing. The poem says that most everyone knows the man is innocent, but no one says anything, they just let the execution happen. Then a beautiful young woman appears. Her head is uncovered. Everyone is aghast -- "how can you be in the square with all these men without a veil?" She responds: "There are no men here," indicting their collective cowardice.

Addendum, 2023: This piece with flora was inspired by a walk I remember taking with my dad in Laurel, Maryland, after we went to an Arabic store there. This addendum was um, added, when I wrote about other walks. More art at BeThatEmpty.org.