After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.
Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet, songwriter, and novelist.
This story confirms that there's still good things happening in this world.
If we enjoy each other openly, one person at a time, how could we not love and live in peace and harmony.
Loved this story. Have just recently performed my first croning ceremony (and was initially cynical) but it was a wonderful celebration of the unity of all women. Now another indication that there need be no barriers: religion, age, culture or language, if we keep an open mind and heart
1 reply: Jim | Post Your Reply
I went to Israel two years ago and had the opportunity to sit down and talk with a 65 year old Palestinian women for an hour. While in Jerusalem we stayed at a hotel in the Muslim district. I looked at all the women and felt so connected to their joys, sorrows, and experiences as women of different faiths. This trip also made me to live in a "shared world."
Outstanding! This is what my 4 yr old latino grandchild would say. He is learning English from watching the English funnies. God bless all of those people that passed the story on. Like you say, there are lots of wonderful people arround.
Thank you for this moving story of the true nature of people. I especially enjoyed the part about carrying a plant to stay rooted. My wife came to the US from Colombia carrying a plant.
thank you for sharing. True: There are NO Strangers in this world. Once we take a moment, however small & connect to another in whatever way we are able, we see the Human Being in front of us. Here's to kindness & helping each other. <3 and HUGS from my heart to all of yours.
I just got another little taste of utopia.
Daydreaming in Kyoto
Awesome . Thank you for sharing . Kindness is a universal language .
Oh gosh, what a beautiful story! I can't wait to send it around to my family and friends. Thanks for making me smile and for putting tears in my eyes . :)
So beautiful. Thank you!
3 replies: Sam, Prsquires, Joyful | Post Your Reply
The world community is ONE. If everyone relates to one another with compassion and respect, there would be very few, if any, barriers of any sort. This story is like a pebble tossed onto the surface of a body of water. Its ripples will touch others wherever they may be.
may every being without exception be covered with sweetness
For act of kindness language is no bar every body understands it. Acts of kindness must be spread as wide as possible.
Beautiful. A small little moment turns into eternity.
Thank You for sharing this.
Soft shimmering light connecting strangers-us. Heart touching,heart warming , heart melting.
Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for the heart warming story. It makes me wonder how would the world be if there were no language barriers, how many misunderstandings could be avoid, how much love could be shared? The beauty of this story is to imagine how many ripples it caused and the impact it had in each of those who were part of this beautiful chain of acts kindness.
This made my heart melt . . . and I now have an undeniable craving for a mamool cookie. :o) Naomi, thank you for sharing your touching experience, and for reminding us that this kind of shared world is not far from reach.
This is exactly where I want to live as well-in a shared world. So unbelievably beautiful and hopeful.
On Feb 5, 2015 Deepak wrote:
Thank You . Beautiful .
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