Going through the night – A Psalm for Aleppo

Photo credit: Lars Kjølhede Christensen CC 2.0

Your fate Aleppo is nothing but misery. Death. Abandonment.
A merciless world of political and economic interests
Showers you day and night with bombs, attacks of all kinds
Sweeping your children away like locusts devouring leaves
You make videos and send to the world:
Where does your help come from?
Right wings are for somebody against you
Left wings fake their support making their confusion your death
Many others don’t understand
And fight their own helplessness
You are on your own!
Your children are motherless
Holding on for life into the arms of few nurses left in your city
They can’t even cry anymore
Your fathers are barren
Holding on to their children’s dead bodies and screaming:
You are all I have left
Enemies are coming to rape your kids and you better kill your children first, yes!
We watch you desperate
We watch you in desperation
Barely able to breath
It is night and it is so hard to believe
When the sun comes, it is involved in dust and clouds
Cold, fear, hunger, hopelessness and raging violence is your daily food
We read confused news taking for granted that that misfit piece in a newspaper is what we should consider
Many times we turn our eyes from videos that come from your disaster
For we cannot accept that we are capable of such brutality
Our powerlessness is overwhelming
We can’t bear seeing it
Christians try to deal with it by putting your children sitting with the trinity, as one of the triune God
Or writing prayers
Trying to make sacred what the world has made vile, futile, barely nothing
And that is what we do: barely nothing
But you have to understand,
Here in United States we are much more worried about Trump
Our president is leaving office and has to ponder about all of the alliances with Israel and its fight with Russia
I am sorry your political timing isn’t the best
In fact, you are dying at a wrong time
Our essentialist anti-imperialism is diffused and placed in scattered places
We don’t dig deep
We don’t go to the right places to learn about you
I am sorry but there is only so much to life that we can do and take
We rely on prayers as if this is the only thing we can offer to you
We feel sorry
But we have not repented
We can only bounce back what you already know:
you live in a hopeless world
Like the slaves
Like the refugees
Like the indigenous people
Like The Palestinians
Like the miserably poor
With no land, no mercy, no skies, no love, no birds, no care, no water, no solidarity, no food, no plants, no warmth, no place to sleep and nowhere to go
We are compelled to pray
A prayer that no church will pray
With our mouths dried and our tongues stuck to our palettes
We gasp scorched half brutalized words
Putting to proof a faith that has to respond when facing all odds
Asking a God who might have died there with your children, clowns and nurses
For a possibility
We don’t know
We cry with you
We cry for you
We get angry
Knowing way too well why these brutal political leaders are killing you
From the safety of their cozy homes and nice families
And in spite of that
As a sign of utter stupidity
We persist asking God
Why? Why? Why?
We have nothing to offer you
But our heart
Our full heart
Knowing that means nothing
We know
We are very sorry
But we know that means nothing as well
It is night and it is so hard to believe.


Cláudio Carvalhaes is a liturgist, theologian and artist from Brazil. A teaching elder in the PC(USA), he is professor of worship at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.