These tiny little fella’s look like boys anywhere else. They play, they joke, they laugh, they fight. The only difference is their stories. Stories of devastation, lost homes, lost lives, lost parents. Sometimes even losing them violently in front of their eyes. Eyes who are way too young to watch what they have watched. All growing up without a mother or a father. Here they are, on their knees, sharing their secrets and worries. And still, they play, they joke, they laugh, they fight. Like any other boy. If there is one thing I am learning from them, it is resilience. The courage to keep moving, to keep going forward. To not let anything make you give up. They are such clever, brilliant and wise human beings. I have faith that they will get wherever they want to go. Because they don’t give up. Giving up simply does not exist here. Let my little brothers inspire you on this Thursday night. To chase your dreams and go where you want to go. And don’t tell me something is stopping you. It’s only on your mind. Dream big and move forward. You simply owe it to them to do so.
Life is never easy in a refugee camp. I have heard so many stories of people losing hope, fear and even worse, their dreams. There is no such thing as Sinterklaas or Christmas here. All they do is wait, waiting for the war to end, waiting for a future in the area where they fled from. Three years of waiting… Just compare that to our frustration when a train is five minutes late.. luckily, those displaced people invented the concept of resilience. And so a sunset like this one is still noted. Thanks to the ones pointing beauty out to me today.
Irish Church. I light a candle, give the flame a good spot and sit down. Quietly, I don’t want to disturb.
Moved, that’s what I am. By this sacred space that I can relate to wherever I am in the world. And by the number of people coming in to make a prayer. Or maybe to express their gratitude. Or say sorry. Or even confess something. I pray for those who come for the latter as I think asking for forgiveness is unnecessary. Humanity is okay.
A woman on her knees. Head down. It seems to take forever. The longest worship I have ever seen. It feels like a confession though. As if she is about to give up. I can almost feel her sadness and despair. Her negative energy towards her own deeds. For some reason I believe they were well intended.
Another woman, older, with click clack shoes. Greeting her known friends before she kneels and sits down. Is that a wig? Hmm. No! It’s beautiful, perfect for her.
A woman dressed in black, walking in with her Starbucks coffee and wrapped sandwich. I notice my judgements. Takes out her rosary and starts working her way through the beads. My judgements evaporate. She stands up, touches the altar, greets her friends too, kneels and leaves. With her Starbucks coffee and wrapped sandwich.
A young man, younger than me. Kneels and sits. Takes his headphones off and his smartphone out. No messages? Puts it back in the pocket of his coat. Leans back when someone wants to pass. Why is he here?
An older man. He was in before I got here. I can hear him breathing throughout my whole stay. I am getting curious and want to see where this noise is coming from. I turn my head to the side. He is asleep. Does he live on the streets of Dublin? Will he be woken up at some point?
The gathering of all sorts of people. The sound of generous coins in the offering box. The warmth of the candles and winter coats around me. The cold outside is fine to me when I can be in here, wrapped in the warm blanket of these people. The taste of silence. And the belief in faith. The belief that it’s good and helpful to be here and pray. Whatever prayer you have. I believe it’s a good thing. Here, right now, hidden in the middle of the bustling capital of Ireland.
“The only difference between your Catholic and our Muslim belief is that Allah is our messenger instead of a God. We are teachers too, in English and Computer Science. We have an arranged marriage like almost everyone else in India. It is often very difficult, but we think love marriages and love relationships are difficult too, right? Can we take a selfie? We can not post pictures of ourselves on Facebook because we are not allowed to expose ourselves. You can post it but please don’t tag us. We will keep our picture as a sweet memory of our talk.”