At times, we participate in profound moments unaware. Only in retrospect do we realize the significance of what we are a part.
Other times, we know – at least partly. We may not know all the details and nuances, but we recognize that matters of deep import surround us and we play our tiny part.
This past week, I had the privilege to accompany Dr. Mary Mikhael as she made an amazing witness for peace and justice in Syria. Mary is from the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. Until 2011, she served as the president of the Near East School of Theology in Beirut. After her retirement,the church has named her their interpreter and communicator in this time of tragedy and crisis for the people of Syria.
In that role, she traveled to the United States for the month of September. She spent last week in New York where I had the privilege to accompany her as she told the story of her church and her people, as she witnessed to her faith, as she advocated for peace and justice.
Mary went to Washington, DC on Tuesday. The Presbyterian Office of Public Witness arranged for her to speak at their Second Tuesday Briefing and to meet with aides of five elected officials and a State Department official.
Wednesday saw her in New York with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. We did extensive video work with my friend and colleague David Barnhart and my new friend Scott Lansing. The video links will be shared when they are posted. That afternoon, Mary spoke to a public event attended by church members, UN agency staff members, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations.
On Thursday, Mary met with staff members of two Permanent Missions to the UN – missions that sit on the Security Council. She also met with representatives of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Syrian Crisis Core Group made up of UN agencies working in Syria.
As we rode uptown toward the place where Mary was staying, her relief was obvious. She had witnessed well and she was tired.
Then the phone of my colleague Ryan Smith buzzed. An offer arrived for Mary to meet with a representative of the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict on Friday.
“Would you do one more meeting?” Ryan asked.
No hesitation. Mary replied, “How can I say no?”
Ryan and I looked at each other. “You can say no because you are tired and this is one extra meeting and you had other plans.”
“How can I say no?” Mary repeated.
We conceded. “You can’t.”
“But can it be early in the day?” Mary asked.
Ryan confirmed the meeting and on Friday morning, it took place.
Mary and I then went uptown and for a moment said farewell. We will meet again, I am sure.
I give thanks for the time we shared.
And I gave thanks for Dr. Mary Mikhael.
And I gave thanks for her witness, her courage, her grace, and her faith as she told stories of horror and proclaimed hope.
And I give thanks for the small role I played in these profound moments.
See you along the Trail.