Trapped in a War Zone
(As seen on Inkwell Inspirations, January 18, 2010)
|My kids and I enjoying Lebanon|
Life went on.
|Sitting on the balcony drinking coffee|
Later that evening we went to a party. When we heard a particularly seismic bang, they told the children someone had set off fireworks for the birthday celebration. My husband took me aside and informed me it was the bridge to Beirut. Beirut and the airport. The way out. They always bombed it first to cut off the South from supplies. I didn’t enjoy the cake so much. A trapped sensation began to squeeze my chest.
On the way home I watched red rockets shoot into the sky. Not in celebration of Clara’s birthday. Teens lined the streets watching them like fireworks anyway. That’s when I realized: although no one had a gripe with the neutral little village, sometimes innocent bystanders get caught in the fray. Hezbollah rockets flew willy-nilly across the sky after streaking Israeli jets, not at all concerned where they landed. I watched the flares apex and arch and spin back down to earth, without a care. The rockets. Not me.
That night I kept my children in an interior room of the house. Thank God Lebanese homes are made of stone. I prayed and sang worship songs and read Psalms on the vibrating bed to the whistling flute and booming bass drum of rockets blasts, until I couldn’t take it anymore. My eleven-year-old daughter Christiana picked up the Bible and continued. Here is a portion from the scripture she found.
Psalm 140 (The Message Version)
1-5 God, get me out of here, away from this evil; protect me from these vicious people. All they do is think up new ways to be bad; they spend their days plotting war games. They practice the sharp rhetoric of hate and hurt, speak venomous words that maim and kill.
Appropriate don’t you think.
After a while the kids fell asleep, but I could not. I struggled to calm my racing heart, to still my shaking hands, to swallow back my fear. I stroked their curly heads as they lay in peace, treasuring each child, each moment, the tranquil features of their small faces. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning I crawled to my own bed on the side of the house where the rockets zoomed. I didn’t care anymore. I was desperate to escape into dreams.
But with the first light of dawn I awoke to my husband’s whispered confession. “They bombed the airport last night.”
And panic set in. I could no longer hold it at bay. It seized my heart, clutching it, cinching tight, threatening to smash the life right out of it. I could barely find the air to breathe. My husband spent the day on the computer and the phone. I curled in a ball and cried and tried to keep the kids from playing soccer on the sunny streets. My daughter read us Psalms.
Where to go? What to do? This was no child’s game. We were truly trapped. Should we go to Syria? To Jordan? Take a taxi? Steal a car? I couldn’t spend months in that village listening to bombs drop. I would never survive. Besides, there were things waiting for us back home: dance camps and church picnics, homeschool planning and season tickets to amusement parks.
This was not my life!
No good solutions surfaced, but we had to do something. My in-laws wanted us to stay there in that—can’t eat, can’t sleep, bass drums rumbling, must keep the kids from playing soccer on the sunny streets—hell. They’d been through wars before. We’d be trapped but safe. They seemed certain. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t just sit and drink coffee on the balcony while waiting for my nails to dry. While waiting for the war to pass and the bombs to cease. Everything within me cried out to fight.
I called my kids and husband to the interior room. It was the most peaceful place in the house. We sang and prayed some more. I asked the children if any of them had a word from God. Lord knew I was far too much of a mess to hear. Adam, not quite four-years-old, piped up. “I do,” he said in his squeaky little voice.
|Adam, not quite four, waiting for refuge|
We didn’t know at the time that back home people were experiencing similar visions and dreams. But when Adam told us the story, we felt we understood. The library represented man’s wisdom. If we did what seemed wise, we would be trapped. I couldn’t be trapped again. I couldn’t stay trapped in that village any longer.
My husband said, “So, let’s go north to Beirut.”
Now, you have to understand traveling north to Beirut was the stupidest thing we could have done. The Israelis were on a mission to bomb out all the bridges and shut down transportation, and to get to Beirut would mean crossing many, many bridges.
But as my husband spoke those words, a peace settled over the room like a soft snuggly blanket. We knew. We had our answer. I knew. I wasn’t trapped. My mourning was done. The world was light and bright again, and I didn’t care about the crashing bass drums.
|Dina and Jonny posing on the broken down car|
Almost four-year-old Adam was right. If we tried to get out of the country we would have been trapped at the border for days. And the borders were being bombed.
And although I empathized with my parents back home, I had discovered a secret in the midst of the war. Sometimes in the middle of being trapped, you can wind up feeling oddly…free.
When the US government finally announced they would send refugee ships, we were a five-minute drive from the departure spot, precisely where we needed to be. Adam’s vision proved true yet again. God had spoken. God is always speaking if only we will stop and listen. He had been our hiding place. Our refuge in that storm.
Back safe in the states!
For more info on the 2006 War in Lebanon visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Lebanon_War