“For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light.”
New Living Translation (©2007)
I have been praying for Afghans and learning about Afghanistan since 2004. Though I have learned many things about recent history, there was so much that I didn’t know about the struggles faced by the people of this war torn country. Recently, I picked up the book The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan by journalist Christina Lamb. She amazed me with her vivid descriptions and her up close and personal experiences in Afghanistan. Her personal experience comes from visits in the 80’s as well as trips post 9/11. The contrast between the people and places she saw in her early 20’s versus in her return trip offer such an interesting perspective. Additionally, she weaves the history of this country into her well-told story in a way that intrigues the reader to want to know more.
Early in the book, Christina shares this glimpse into the lives of Afghans:
“But for me Afghanistan was more than that. It was about being among a people who had nothing but gave everything. It was a land where people learnt to smell the first snows or the mountain bear on the wind and for whom an hour spent staring at a beautiful flower was an hour gained rather than wasted. A land where elders rather than libraries were the true source of knowledge, and the family and tribe meant far more than the sum of individuals. When I returned to Thatcherite London where the streets were full of people rushing, their faces seeming to glitter with greed, Afghanistan felt like a guilty secret, my Afghan affair…I listened to friends bragging about buying Porsches…I wanted to tell them of a place where every family had lost a son or a husband or had a leg blown off…where a small boy had told me his dream was to have a brightly coloured ball. But, when I began to talk about Afghanistan, I watched eyes glaze and felt as if I was trying to have a conversation about a movie no one else had seen.”
The news tells you all about those who hate and those who kill…those who blow things up and those who hide. The descriptions this author gives in her book go so much deeper into the hearts and souls and dreams and desires of those she encounters. One young woman from Afghanistan began writing Christina letters. In one of these letters she reveals a real person who was a non-entity to so many. The young woman, Marri, wrote:
“You see us now in our burqas like strange insects in the dust, our heads down, but it wasn’t always this way. I do not remember much before the Russian invasion as I was only eight when they came and I felt bad then when I saw the soldiers…they had made slaves of us but even at that time we still went to school…I finished school and became a teacher. When the Taliban came to Kabul…we all had to wear burqas. I had never worn one before, they were something from the village, and it was like not being able to breathe or see, just seeing in front through that small square like a cage, and in the summer it is so hot and the sun blinds you. I fell over twice the first day.
In our house behind all the burqas and shalwar kamiz is a red silk party dress, my mother’s from the time when the king was in power and my father in the foreign ministry. Sometimes I hold it up against me and imagine dancing but it is a lost world. Now we must wear clothes that make us invisible…”
I hope you will go to the bookstore or library and find this book and read it! And may God grow in your heart a love for the people of Afghanistan, and a desire to pray for them that the darkness would be revealed by The Light of the World.
—Lady of Prayer
Names of God:
The Light of the World
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV