An Adventure in Baghdad

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An Adventure in Baghdad
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The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. This beautiful sentence has a profound meaning for me. This is not a simple prayer or a verse of a psalm that crosses my mind from time to time, but it is an experienced truth lived for me.

On Tuesday the 12th of May 2015, the father provincial, brother Michel Lachnaud o.p. during his canonical visit to Baghdad, went to visit our Dominican sisters of the Presentation in Tour accompanied by brothers Philippe Khoshaba, Rami Simon and myself. There was the Shiite pilgrimage, at the time in Baghdad. As every year, the faithful Shiites walk to pay tribute to their imam Mosa AL-Kadem.

On this occasion, the municipality of Baghdad and the police were blocking the roads to Baghdad to give way to the pedestrian pilgrims. But despite the difficult road, we arrived at our sisters and then we spent a joyous time and extraordinary sharing with them. It was really a beautiful fraternal meeting. Our provincial had also visited their school, the beautiful conventual chapel and the Saint Raphael Hospital. He really appreciated the apostolate of our sisters.

The Calvary of our return

After having spent this pleasant time with our sisters, we left this place and headed for the convent of the Epiphany, home of the Dominicans in Baghdad. We must not forget that, here, in Baghdad, surprises come every moment of our existence. The return route was complicated because of the barriers and blockages provided for the pilgrims, a car bomb exploded very close to the place where we were. This time, the police immediately began firing bullets in the air and everywhere (like in a Hollywood film).  It was a (life) unique show. This time, the roads and bridges in Baghdad were completely blocked by the Iraqi army. That is a Baghdadi surprise that happens at any time without warning. As a driver, I had to find a quick and effective solution.

Here, I could not get rid of my concern, the provincial was with us and I had to protect him and take him home safe and sound. Therefore, I used the GPS in my brain and tried to take several roads and changed direction several times, but it was pointless. However, despite the bad traffic jam, we tried to cross the three successive bridges, the republic and Al-Rashid and the liberal bridge, unfortunately, everything was blocked by the police. As a last chance, I also tried the bridge of Al-Jadrya, it was the same blockage.

At one point, brother Michel said to us: (I think that Majid is no longer speaking and that is a bad sign) we started to laugh. For around three hours, we were at a dead end, the time spent and the challenge was to find a solution! This journey had allowed us to see Baghdad (by night).  We saw the pilgrims, the tents set up in the streets to welcome the pilgrims, we went passed the Museum of Baghdad. Finally, we were able to return back to the house, we had a unique Baghdadi experience. Inside me there was prayer and the great reason to operate the GPS in my brain.

I find that despite the roadblocks, the car bombs, the unexpected Baghdadi surprises, we came to achieve our goal. The Lord is my shepherd I lack nothing.

Fr. Majid, o.p.

 

(20 May 2015)