Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Day of Prayer and Fasting

When I was in college, my physical chemistry professor used to tell everyone he was from Persia.  This was because when he said Persia, people thought Arabian nights-flying carpets-Aladdin and smiled, and when he said Iran, which is the modern name for ancient Persia, people thought he was a terrorist.

That was back in the 1980s, when Iran was our enemy, and Iraq was our friend.

Now we've swapped those.  Anybody remember why?  My heart is breaking for the people of Egypt, the multilingual scholars that showed us the ancient ruins, the busboys at the hotel who explained to me what I was eating and the staff on the boat who danced with my son on his birthday.  The tiny charming girl that posed for me with her pony, the man I haggled with at a bookstore, and even the old bat who tried to force me to pay five pounds--five times the going rate--to use the toilet at the Sphinx.  (I paid her one pound.  It wasn't my first day in Egypt.)  All these people, real people, their country in ruins.  Their economy, so dependent on tourists, in ruins.

And now Syria, whom we may attack any moment in retaliation for using chemical weapons within their own borders.  I get the chemical weapon thing.  I do.  But I can't imagine that more cruise missiles are the answer.

Pope Francis has asked people worldwide to observe a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria.  Honestly, I'm only up this early because there's a rumor the painter will be showing up this morning, but since I'm up I figure I'll get out my rosary.  The rosary is one of my favorite prayers for times like this--the repetitions become so meditative that it's easy to focus part of your brain on the prayer and part of it on the reason for praying.

I don't fast well--I tend to pass out--so I'll observe the modified fast I usually follow.  No alcohol, no soda, nothing to drink but water and coffee.  No desserts.  No snacks.  Small simple meals when I'm truly hungry, and it all has to be actual food, no potato chips or what have you.  It's enough that I remember why I'm doing it, which is at least part of the point.

If you're reading this, think of those you know whose lives have been directly affected by war.  If you pray, send up a prayer for them.  Do something today in their honor, for peace.