Does the number twenty five hold any significance for you?
It keeps popping up for me, as I reflect on what is mine to share in this my twenty fifth blogpost. I feel very passionate about what's been bubbling up for some time now. I can't not share this.
When I turned twenty five, I thought to myself, "Wow. A quarter of a century old!" Wow. I was so young!
Now nearing fifty nine and oh-so-much wiser and compassionate, I want to use this number to share the idea of solidarity and what it can look like in today's world.
What does solidarity mean to you?
Rather than give you a dictionary definition, here's what it means to me. That I am somehow connected to and impacted by my fellow members of the human race. Wherever they are, however they are living, whether they are suffering or not. I may or may not be able to change anything.
However I NOTICE them, I CARE about them. I HELP them if, when and how I can.
This last year, one topic has stolen and broken my heart, that being the civil war in Syria, especially in Aleppo. Today, the rebel forces are all but wiped out, their last "stronghold" being the Eastern portion of that city.
As you know, twenty five times ten thousand is two hundred fifty thousand. 250,000. A quarter of a million.
Did you know that that is the number of people trapped in Eastern Aleppo on this the 100th day of besiegement by the Syrian regime? It used to be more, but so many have died. And now, as tens of thousands attempt to flee, many are being targeted by regime forces with gunfire and bombs.
What about solidarity? How has that shown up?
Numerous organizations, including the Syrian Civil Defense, International Red Cross, and Catholic Relief Services have devoted resources to help victims and refugees. You can learn more here:
Or, just google Aleppo relief.
For a long time now, the civilian rescue group called The White Helmets has been raising money, putting it to life saving use, with rescue and emergency medical training, ambulances and extraction equipment, etc. These are the men who run in to rescue after the bombs hit.
But now the bombing and gunfire is so incessant that the White Helmets often cannot get to the victims in time. They have to make decisions on how best to use their limited gasoline. They cannot keep up.
Their greatest joy is saving the life of another person.
Their greatest sorrow is hearing someone alive under the rubble, and finding them dead.
My emotions were shaken after listening to a journalist recently returned from Aleppo who discredited The White Helmets as puppets of terrorist forces. About this time, the White Helmets were featured in a Netflix documentary and were being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize. I didn't know what to make of it all.
Solidarity kicked in. All I could think about were my Syrian brothers and sisters. Their humanity. Their innate dignity. And their horrific life and losses.
Today, I am facing the possibility, what may become the reality... that the regime will accomplish its goal of destroying killing wiping out those who remain. Whether through bombing, gunfire, lack of medical care, and/or starvation.
I feel the desperation of the noose tightening around the collective necks of these innocent people of God.
Solidarity? Today and every day, I am praying for relief. For an end to the suffering of my brothers and sisters. I am honoring their instinct to survive under impossible circumstances. And I am more and more understanding what some are saying, that the ones whose lives are taken by the bombs are the lucky ones.
Solidarity? Today and every day I am praying love, peace, consolation in solidarity with my brothers and sisters. I am intending a power greater than hate, greater than violence, and that's what I'm sending out into the world. For even though I cannot change what is happening in Aleppo, I can change how I treat those in my life and in my daily encounters. With love and compassion. Encouragement. Fairness.
Back in June, when I became aware of just how bad things were getting, I was moved to paint my first quadriptych. One image across four panels. Each panel 14"x14". This came from my heart, and only later would the words form to describe it.
Twenty five percent is one fourth of something. What showed up on these four in one panels was deep cobalt blue, with some black and white. Diversity. The circular movements of my arm and brush revealed wholeness, connectedness.
And suddenly I knew its name:
For you can no more take apart these pieces and have a whole than our world can lose the people of Aleppo and not be broken by it.
Solidarity? Hell yes.
Let's turn the word into action.
I now know what I'm called to do, and how you can help me serve.
I am auctioning off Aleppo, starting at $1000.00 for all four pieces together. I am going to donate 25% of the proceeds to the British Red Cross, Syria Campaign. (I just donated 25 GBP to them.) Auction ends December 25th. How fitting...
How can you help?
Bid to raise the price. Someone else bid.
Bid again. Let's make something big happen.
Think hard about the blessings you have in your life.
Think hard about how you spend your money.
Notice the roof over your head.
Notice how safe you are.
Donate to a Syrian relief organization of your choice.
Assalam alaykum. Peace be upon you.