Poem: Advent’s Eve, 2005

I was a reservist with Christian Peacemaker Teams living in London in 2005 during the kidnapping of Norman Kember, Harmeet Singh Sooden, Jim Loney and Tom Fox. Today is the 13th anniversary of the date they were taken.

On that last day of ordinary time
Norman, Harmeet, Jim and Tom walk across a parking lot
in Baghdad and get into a van.
Years later, Jim can’t remember “those last, unremarkable motions.”

The next morning (the first Sunday of Advent)
The BBC called me at noon.
The voice at the other end of the line was chasing rumors:
We heard that four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams were kidnapped.
What do you know?

What if Christians took the same risks for peace…

The van exits the lot, abruptly stops;
Men with big guns open the door,
shove the four to the floor
and into the tomb.

That soldiers do for war?

Waves broke across our ordinary time:
Across the tapestry of CPT*
Arriving through phone lines wet with tears
at those four threads ripped away from so many

What do I know?

Lives sown together with soft words and shared food:
Fresh fish from the Opon river at dawn,
warm stew beneath the trees of Treaty 3 land,
falafel and pita just beyond Damascus gate on the northern wall
and hundreds of cheese sandwiches in Chicago

What do you know?

After three days of frenetic silence
Al-Jazeera showed a video from the Swords of Righteousness Brigade
with our four friends:
frayed, cut, standing in the light.

What do we know?

Our cheek turning footsteps behind that foolish fisherman
Our naive refusal to bow down before the AK-47
Our “hobnobbing with the Sunni extremists”
Splashed across the headlines.

Yet the first candle is lit.

We wait.

*CPT refers to Christian Peacemaker Teams.


Quote one: From p. 13 of “Captivity: 118 Days in Iraq and the Struggle for a World Without War” by James Loney, Vintage Canada Trade, 2012

Quote two: From “Kember deserved to be kidnapped, says Tim Collins” by Thomas Harding, The Telegraph, 10 May 2006 Available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1517955/Kember-deserved-to-be-kidnapped-says-Tim-Collins.html