Song of Strength

In my mind, I see the debka being danced. I hear music being plucked from the strings of the oud as if by magic. I hear a woman singing in Arabic. Her voice rises and falls like a swirling wind. The scenes and sounds do not stop at my ears and eyes. They travel through them into my heart. My heart sends the haunting beauty into every vein of my body. I do not move, but my spirit dances on the wind of the music.
I cannot understand the things that I feel during this time. I know that inside I am weeping, but it is not sadness that I feel. Nor do I feel happiness, even though I am also laughing inside. It is not peace, though I am calmer than I ever am, nor is it excitement, though my spirit shouts and dances. There is an aching, empty void somewhere within me in which this strange feeling drifts. What is it? I do not understand. I feel none of the human emotions, and yet all of them. Perhaps the word that most closely describes this thing is ‘longing’.
I continue to see, hear and feel the Arabic culture. After a time, I realize that I do not actually see, hear or feel any of these things. I am all of them. I am part of it.
My eyes are closed for a long time. When I finally open them, I feel that they are wet. So are my cheeks. Many tears fall quickly and silently from my eyes. This time I know that it is sadness that I feel, and also anger. The people and culture that I love so much–that are a part of me–are being destroyed. First it was Palestine, then Iraq and then now just recently, Lebanon, which is the land of my ancestors. What will be next? Will it all soon be gone? Will it all be destroyed?
My anger turns into hatred for the people who are causing these tragedies. A hot, burning hatred. Some people say that all hatred is wrong. They say that you should hate no one and nothing. They say that you should love everything. I see hatred as an inevitability, but if it is used correctly, then it is a good thing. Without hatred, there can be no love. If someone loves one thing, then he will hate it’s opposite. If he loves justice, then he will hate injustice. If he does not feel a strong hatred for anything evil, then he does not truly love goodness. If hatred is directed at evil things and people then it is a good thing. It shows that there is a healthy love within the heart. I love the Arabic culture passionately. My hatred for those who are destroying it is equally passionate.
In my mind, the circle of the debka is falling apart. It is smaller, for lack of people. The dancers move slowly and shuffling, as if in pain. The song of the oud is faint. The voice of the Arabic-singing woman is no longer as beautiful and mysterious as it once was. She is weeping.
I weep with her. How can the beauty of this culture simply be destroyed? How can it leave? How can there ever be a time when people will not know about it except through old history books? How can it’s strength be overcome?
Then suddenly I know…
The strength of the people and culture! They are too strong to be destroyed! It is impossible. They will never give in. Even though their homes are being bombed and their loved ones murdered, they will not give in. They seem to only gain more strength from these things! They will NEVER give up.
Now in my mind, the circle of debka dancers expands and grows stronger. The dancers move faster and with courage. The oud shouts it’s song of hope. The woman’s voice gains a new strength. Her voice is filled with hope and stubborn will. It rises high, and flies like a dove over the waters of the flood, and returns with a Palestinian olive branch in it’s mouth.
2006 By Stefania Glenn
sglenn@crescentandcross.com

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