Friday, October 22, 2010

Dear Ziad

Dear Ziad,

Thank you and your lovely wife Naila, and all of ATFP for hosting such an inspiring and interesting Gala. My husband and I very much enjoyed all the art- and the speakers... and the gift bag with zataar and olive oil and Nabulsi soap.

Meeting one of my favorite modern poets in person was a moment I will never ever forget. Naomi Shihab Nye is as welcoming and delightful as her poems.

ATFP's hard work and good intentions are obvious, as is the talent, intelligence, dignity and compassion of all the many people who chose to help support the American Task Force on Palestine... I wish you the best of luck in your collective efforts to help shape a just, lasting and comprehensive peace and a real Palestinian state.


Washington DC: The Lincoln Memorial

“In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.” Beneath these words, the 16th President of the United States—the Great Emancipator and preserver of the nation during the Civil War—sits immortalized in marble. As an enduring symbol of freedom, the Lincoln Memorial attracts anyone who seeks inspiration and hope.

ATFP 2010 featuring Arab Artwork- promoting Palestine & Peace

For the complete text of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's Keynote Address at ATFP Gala click here. For the complete text of Ziad Asali's introduction click here. For more information about the gala click here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Music Therapy

All summer long I have very much enjoyed seeing the humming birds flitting up to drink their nectar at our feeder.

At the end of this summer my husband's father died, suddenly and unexpectedly. It was a horrible shock. My husband's father was an amazing man. I simply can not find the words to express how deep our loss is... the world's loss really as he was very much beloved by all family, friends, and associates who knew him. My father-in-law and his best buddy from childhood grew up to be very successful, well respected businessmen. Many different people feel his loss in many different ways. My husband has lost not only a father, but a best friend and trusted advisor. My sister-in-law writes lovingly of him in a blog she started called Baba's Little Girl. I however can not even begin to express in words how much this perfect father-in-law has meant to me. Nor can I even try describe him yet, for I would not know where to begin except to say he was born in Palestine.

Perhaps one day I will find the words to explain what an admirable and interesting and entertaining man my father-in-law was. In time, I hope, in time. He is most definitely a good memory to savor.

Miqdad giving his grandson James some lettuce to taste, Amman Jordan

Jaffar and his father and our kids in Petra

Miqdad and his two oldest grandsons exploring history

Miqdad & Miqdad & James & Jaffar just hanging out

Fathers & sons: Jaffar, Miqdad, and his namesake Miqdad

My father-in-law, who knew all sorts of fascinating tidbits about history and archaeology, giving us a fascinating tour of Jerash

Jaffar and his father

Miqdad & Alma Lou Annab at home

Miqdad, Jaffar & Miqdad gardening in the atrium, Amman Jordan 2009

We flew to Amman as quickly as we could when we heard of Baba's death. My mother came over as soon as she heard, helping us as I orchestrated plane tickets and travel plans for two sons away at two different colleges, my husband, myself and my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law was visiting us at the time of my father-in-law's death. Her immediate reaction was to remind us that he lived a good life- a full life. I will always be grateful that she was here to tell the news to her son, and to console us all.

Our young niece and nephew met at us the airport in Jordan, they are growing up so fast! We drove to Baba's house and the kitchen was crowded with close family members who had gathered to greet us, and to share our tears.

The Arabic newspapers were full of condolences and announcements about Baba. We had the traditional azza- three days of formal grieving with the men of the family greeting people (men only) in a large rented formal public hall and the women staying in the home to receive female visitors there. All day long people were coming in, shaking hands, sitting down for either a few minutes or hours- depending on how close they were to the family. Arabic coffee in tiny cups and big plump juicy dates and bottles of water were served to all who came. In the afternoon a large lunch arrived- each day brought by someone in the extended family as the women of the house can not be expected to cook during this time. We had delicious lamb with rice and almonds. Chicken. Stuffed grape leaves..etc... the traditional stuff. And on the third day we had knaffieh for dessert- the Nablus specialty.

Miqdad, James, Annie & Jaffar on the front steps of Baba's house Amman Jordan September 2010

Miqdad Hasan Annab, 16 years old
August 1st, 1932- September 17th 2010

Baba's kids: Nasser, Jaffar, Ali & Randa

Baba's grandchildren (Miqdad, James, Feisal, Yasmeen, & Laith) with Randa and Baba's niece Ghada & her daughter Nisreen

I always hoped that one day when Palestine was free from Israeli occupation Baba could take us to Nablus, and show us his childhood haunts and entertain us with his stories. He had a knack for making people feel at home and happy... We all thought he would live a long long time as his father did. I wish he could have lived long enough to see Palestine, his beloved birthplace, free. He was the type of supporter that Palestine needs- a good man and a loving man, and a modest man... and a successful competent businessman. Very much a diplomat- and a gentleman. By the entrance to his library there was a calender open to September 2010- celebrating El-Funoun the Palestinian popular dance troupe.

Jaffar & Annie at Nancy & Mohammad's for breakfast, Amman Jordan September 2020

Meanwhile life goes on. Our time with Baba was far too brief- and so is life itself. As my mother-in-law reminded us over and over this past month, Baba would not want us to waste all our time mourning.

This year's autumn leaves and autumn weather here in central Pennsylvania are glorious...

Autumn Leaves

Autumn flowers

Wandering in and out to see the leaves I sometimes leave the door open- the air feels so crisp- so clean, and the rustle of dry leaves in the trees as the wind picks up and drops is music to my ears- as is the bird song in our garden.

October Glory Maple Leaf

The other day I was sitting at my computer when I heard a loud ruckus in the garden room quite near me- turned out to be the clatter of squirrel talons/toenails on our Garden room's tile floor as a Mr. Squirrel sprinted over to the far corner of the room and crept under my grandmother's rickety old rocking chair.

I screamed! I screamed and jumped up- and I ran away... in running away my back was turned so I was not sure if Mr. Squirrel scampered out. Mr. Squirrel was no where to be found when my husband and I searched for him. I am now imagining furtive ninja squirrel carefully hiding in my house by hanging upside down somewhere under the furniture- his silhouette pulled tight up against his hiding place in order to better hide in the shadows.


Blue Jay in our back yard

This weekend was Family weekend at my youngest son's college. We had a delightful time spending the day with James, and we totally enjoyed the the '16th annual homecoming parade' put on by his college- and eating cafeteria food... and seeing a very special art exhibit in Elizabethtown College's Zug Memorial Hall.

Professor Gene Ann Behrens is a Music Therapy Professor. During a recent trip to Bethlehem she took some riveting and revealing photographs and has organized them into an exhibit to try to help show America what Bethlehem looks like today, under Israeli occupation- strangled by that awful Israeli made wall.

What struck me most about her exhibit is that she does not bombard her audience with the most painful and traumatizing images she can find. Instead she conveys a sense of hope- and a sensitivity to Palestinian dignity and beauty. Her photos are good- but how she titles them is most revealing; "The Pride of a Palestinian Mother" ... "Children Getting to "Act as Children"" ..."Illuminating Years of Faith in the Nativity Church"... "Ageless Strength"

"Ageless Strength "

"Perseverance Amid the Destruction"

Professor Gene Ann Behrens
Music therapy prof travels to Bethlehem to work with children

The International Center of Bethlehem is an ecumenically oriented institution developed through the Lutheran Church that serves the entire Palestinian community. Professor Behrens worked at the Center’s Dar Al-Kalima Health and Wellness Center, meeting with small groups of children and their parents to see how they are coping with the trauma of war, and developing music therapy protocol for working with the children.

Despair, destruction and hope 'Behind the Walls' of Bethlehem, Professor's photos on display at Elizabethtown College
Read more:

Professor Behrens happened to meander into the gallary right before my husband, myself and our son were about to leave. Heavens what serendipity- she was fascinating to talk with!

One thing she said really struck me- basically, the gist of it is that some researchers are finding that talking about trauma can make things worse for the traumitized, leaving them mired in misery rather than healing them. Music therapy however can reach the child- help heal the child.

There probally could be much more written on the topic of Music and healing- and Palestine, but I am not the right person to explain all that needs to be explained.

This week, here in America, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the keynote speaker at the ATFP's Fifth Annual Gala 2010: Building Palestine, the Indispensible State for Peace. One of my favorite poets Naomi Shihab Nye will be honored with an award for Excellence in the Arts. ATFP's Gala also has an Artists Corner pointing out that "these talented individuals have spoken volumes, celebrating Arab and Arab-American culture with vibrancy" My favorite artist found there is Helen Zughaib who believes that the Arts are one of the most important tools we have to help shape and foster dialogue and positive ideas about the Middle East. "Hopefulness, healing and spirituality, are all themes that are woven into her work."

Sisters by Helen Zughaib

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."Eleanor Roosevelt

Growing Gardens for Palestine
The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you