I took a seat nonchalantly and rested the Arabic traditional instrument, the qanun, on my legs. Like every rehearsal and performance attended, I was focused, music ready, mind and spirit in reverence of the music to be created. Between the sound cables and baby Jesus in the manger, I looked up from the corner to the believers in this newly dedicated Maronite American church. The stories of tension between families still lingering in the air silently rested on their shoulders. Stories mingled with a spirit of hope to transcend what was by forgetting what has been. But we all know too well how impossible a task it is: to bury the wounded past. It will grow surely in the soil of silence to haunt the souls of their children. Their children, with those big curious pure eyes, suddenly turned to the sound of strings moving their hearts. Theirs encountered my gaze and reached deeply in my soul to the place of beauty, where no remorse or guilt survived. And joy was born at the unexpected sounds of a 20 year-old qanun, beaten up, torn and fixed up, glued, dusty in its corners. Joy filled those big curious pure eyes tracing smiles on their beautiful faces.
From the mud rises the lotus, said the Buddha and from tensions, cracked up instruments and wounded souls rise beauty, that gives hope to a new generation of beings. A hope that opens the doors wide to the infinite richness of centuries-old culture. A hope that whirls in the minds and the hearts resurrecting ideas and thoughts long forgotten in the dust of times. What has been just another performance quickly turned into an invitation. As the souls of these children reached deep into my own, I remembered my responsibility, my generation’s responsibility, to rise from the ashes and wounds of the civil war, to bring hope and beauty of a culture that never really died, but was merely put on a higher shelf.