Khoshāwīst means beloved in Kurmanji Kurdish, the ethnic dialect spoken by many Syrian refugees.
The same word I use as an affectionate nickname for my son. The same word I believe God speaks when He looks at me. My daily prayer is this: keep my heart enclosed in Your most Sacred Heart, and thus make me a conduit of Your love. And what is one of the defining qualities of Jesus’ love? His is a compassionate love.
The Oxford Dictionaries tell us that compassion comes to us from Old French via ecclesiastical Latin, based on compati, to suffer with. This is where I must begin to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis. I cannot think about policy or about the whys and hows. I can only try to grasp the desperation that made ordinary, middle class families just like mine give up everything they know and flee in hopes of a better life. I can only look and say: their children are beloved, as is mine, and try to imagine the agony with which they have made those choices.
And then with a heart opened to their suffering, the only conceivable response is, “How can I help?”
I was so moved by Pope Francis’s exhortation to European churches that each take in one refugee family. I am tired of inaction. I am done with rhetoric. I refuse to feel paralyzed any longer. Yes, I give alms but I want to do something concrete. I have a small life and it is already full, but there is always room for love. And so this is what I am doing. In all my spare minutes, when I am sitting and waiting (at baseball, at karate, at the dentist, you name it) I will be crocheting hats for Syrian refugees. I am working with a Ravelry group which does knitting and crocheting and distributes their work in the refugee camps through an organization called the Salaam Cultural Museum. Yes, my contribution is small, but it is made in love.
I think people get tied up in knots when they conflate the statement I can’t solve this problem with I can’t make a difference. It is true, I can’t solve it. But that is not what God asks. My actions will make a difference, if only to the people whose heads are warmed by the few hats I make. Matthew 25:35-40
Please consider signing a petition urging President Obama to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States.
Here’s the hat pattern I’m using.