I’d like to share this video with you. It’s a choral/spoken word collaboration I was involved in, and it means the world to me. Thank you for taking the time to watch and listen.
With all the love, and in the hope that we can create a world of more unity, where we live the phrases ‘We are together’, ‘We are family’ as the truth they are…
No going back
What would you tell your children to pack
if you knew there was no going back?
Let me tell you the story
of a mother and her four children,
fleeing certain war
for a chance at peace.
They squeeze into the back
of a scarred and ancient truck
to be smuggled by thieves and drunks
across the scorching Sahara.
One daughter dies along the way,
it’s not clear how,
but there’s no time to mourn.
She must be buried.
Even the strength of a mother’s love
can’t keep shifting sands in place
long enough to form a grave
before well aimed rifle butts
in the face and stomach
force her back onto the truck.
There is no going back.
They’re delivered by truck
to a concrete bunker,
a limbo prison,
where they are held for three months
in a very earthly hell.
The smells of illness, lack of sanitation
and fear fester in the heat of the cramped space,
and every breath tastes filthy.
Staring unseeing eyes hide traumatised minds
but the wheel of life continues to turn relentlessly.
Children are born here.
People die here,
in this windowless place.
What kind of hell would make you
risk it all to escape,
only to find yourself in such a place?
Where a mother’s mind has nowhere to hide
from the questions that torment her far more
than the casual beatings from the guards.
“Was I right to bring my children here?
Is peace any closer here than in the home we left,
because I can’t feel it yet?
Are we forgotten?”
But eventually they are freed,
and board a dinghy, so clearly
not fit for purpose they hardly dare breathe,
until they’ve safely crossed the sea to Italy.
There is no going back.
**** (break here) ****
They travel on to Germany,
where a kind family takes them in,
and a new journey of integration begins.
With this family, they join a camp,
where people have gathered to sing.
This community of harmony and song
draws close, holds our family
lovingly in their midst, until one night
the whole camp gathers to hear their story.
A witnessing silence settles,
until the whole tent
breathes and listens as one.
The mother begins in her native tongue,
pausing for her daughter to translate into German,
until the whole story is relayed
to everyone present.
And everyone present knows
there is no going back,
for a story like that
divides a life into the before
and after the hearing of it.
The only way to ensure
all our children are safe from war
is for there to be no wars at all.
In the meantime,
listen well to the stories,
until you know their seeds
are sown in your blood too,
and might grow at any time,
given the right conditions.
Until we’re ready
to write a new story.
A story of unity,
from which there must be no