Aleppo, 19 november 2012.
These days we hear horrific stories. When death strikes so close we realize that we can not escape from it. In one way or another all suffer from a lack of awareness that until some seemingly accidental circumstance shakes us. So the conclusion is inevitable: “The next one could be me”.
A young woman of about 30 years was speaking on the phone in the balcony of her house in a Christian neighborhood of Aleppo. It was just three days before celebrating her wedding, after having dated for 10 years. While she was speaking with joy, a stray bullet pierced through her head …
She would have perhaps continued finalizing the preparations for her marriage, managing even the smallest details so that everything would be perfect. She would have perhaps counted with anxiety the few hours that separated her from that day! But that day never came.
Everyday, throngs of people knock at the doors of the bakeries. The dangerous situation does not exempt one from having to eat, and bread is one of the most accessible food here as it is subsidized. The baker receives the order through a small window overlooking the street. That morning a woman, like many others, waited her turn in line at the sidewalk for several hours. But a stray bullet hit only her – it entered through her left shoulder and went out at the hip after piercing through the heart…
She would probably have been going over impatiently the many things chores still to do at home. She would probably have thought of her children who were waiting to eat, or her husband with whom perhaps she had to be reconciled. But she never retuned.
And then the conclusion is inevitable: “The next one could be me”. Am I ready? I worry about many things, and I toil tirelessly for them: job, comfort, studies, the future, friendship, love … But will I take all of these with me? And meanwhile, I neglect my spiritual health. I don’t decide to root out this particular vice or stay away from that bad company. And my relationship with God cools off, drowned in the rampant whirlpool of the “now.” Why I do put away doing what I must do, naively thinking that “there is still time”?
The first never married. Neither did the other woman return home. The next one could be me.
In this sense the Syrian Christians give us a sobering testimony. With simplicity, they comprehend that nothing that happens escapes the hand of God. They discover His gracious will that orders all things for the good of those who love him. What better preparation for death?
What is humanly so sad and painful looks different in the light of faith!
Sister María de Guadalupe Rodrigo