2019 Would you like to go to Syria?

Nadine in SyriaNadine in Syria“Would you like to go to Doueilaa (Syria) this year?” “Yes, of course!!!” And it was with great enthusiasm that I left Lebanon for Damascus on September 1, 2017, with my little sisters Jeanne d’Arc and Mariam Nour. It was with joy that I returned to this neighborhood and our parish and friends as I had spent my second year of postulancy there. Little by little I got “back in the swing of things” as many things had changed in 7 years.

All went well the first few days but then, soon after, there was the sound of bombs which apparently had not been heard any more for a year. With time I could discern whether the bombs were headed elsewhere or whether they were falling in the region. It was unintentional, but I felt relieved when they were “departing,” even though that meant that many on the other side were going to die.

One day two bombs fell very close to our house. I was alone at home. I was seized with all sorts of fears: fear for myself, fear that something happened to my sisters, fear for our neighbors – and I thought, “But what am I doing here? Am I crazy or what? No, I’m not ‘ready for all’ as I pray in Charles de Foucauld’s Prayer of Abandonment each evening. I’m not ready to die yet.”

From that day forward, my prayer became more intense. For a longtime I had been beginning my day by thanking the Lord for the new day He had given me to live. Now this prayer, as well as the Prayer of Offering, took on all its meaning. During the weekend of prayer, I decided to take the time to discern what would be best: to ask to leave Syria or to remain. And why? To remain out of pride (fear of being considered a coward) or out of love? And that is how I renewed my “yes” with myself, yes I want to live here out of love for these courageous people who have been fighting for their lives for seven years now.

I continued with joy to live with my sisters day by day, knowing that whatever we planned could be canceled at the last minute, and thus learning to live in a spirit of abandonment. Syrian refugeesSyrian refugees

But now, just recently, the situation has become more dangerous and I have been asked to stay in Lebanon temporarily until it gets better. That came like a bomb! But with that, too, I am learning what true abandonment and loving obedience are. A bitter “yes,” or a “yes” one does not adhere to deeply, poisons life, while a “yes” in faith is liberating. In obedience, one is always sure of not making a mistake.

So today, despite the suffering, I am getting ready to go live in our community in Beirut for an undetermined time, with the decision to live the present moment fully, thanking God for the deep inner peace I am feeling and for all these opportunities He gives us for growing in Him.