Reflections on the city of rubble: a view through a bullet hole

Posted on May 7, 2012 by VMMissions Staff

Words do not come easily when I think of how to describe this city.

Contrasts abound. A quiet sorrow hovers, a faint memory of a city, once great, now reduced to rubble. As we traveled from the relative safety of a car with tinted windows, my host pointed at mounds of concrete, skeletons of the past with rebar arteries bleeding from their surfaces. Her voice carries a longing of someone who has lost a love. She points. “There is the hotel where I spent my honeymoon. On that corner, the ice-cream shop. There, the cinema. People vacationed at the beach, eating in outdoor cafes with ocean breezes.” She sees through a lens of memory, now clouded with the blood, dust, and destruction of decades of war. She remembers more. I see only ruin.

Gunfire punctuates every hour. “Popcorn,” my host calls it. “We don’t hear it. We no longer duck our heads.” The people don’t beep their horns to part the unruly traffic. “They fire their guns.” It is the tenor voice that accompanies the base rumble of nightly mortar fire. But the city is thriving again. Cars have returned. Fruit, bread, clothing and qat stands line the streets in front of buildings pock-marked with bullet holes.

There is a guesthouse within the guarded hospital compound. I peer through a hole in the front door. This bullet hole provides a window to inspect my surroundings. Around a table, we talk about their loved ones. “My mother was shot through the neck while sitting on the front porch.” “My brother was killed.” “My husband was suspected of being an extremist, so he was shot.” Justice executed immediately at the hands of someone with a gun. No police interrogation. No court. Only a man with a weapon.

But my soul was lifted. Christ in me, the hope of glory, has sent a call even into this dark place. There is an invitation to join and work to be healers of those the war has flattened. But there is risk. Will you pray?

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