Diakonissa Maria Powell
Dame Commander, Order of Saint George the Great Martyr
Director of Public Relations
In a recent article, I ended with the words “We will not let these people be forgotten.”
Let me add to that thought, perhaps. It is not possible to forget the people. When I woke up this morning and began my scrolling through US news sources to seek an update, more news, any news at all, it took twenty minutes of scrolling to catch a one-minute mention of the situation in Gaza.
Our Christian brothers and sisters are being displaced, dying, or being injured by the thousands. How is this not worthy of our attention here safely in the West? It seems impossible to forget the images seared into my brain. Memorials to the dead, among them children far younger than my own son. One stood out. A boy who looked very familiar. I looked back and saw immediately why he tugged at my memory and my heart. There. There it was, a picture taken not long ago. He was an altar boy. I see him in the procession, carrying a candle and a cross the way my own son used to do here at the monastery when he, too, was a small altar boy. My son is grown, but this boy is dead. My mother texts me, asking if I have taken my son for his driving lesson. This boy will never know the excitement of learning to drive. No one will ask about his day in school anymore. He is gone, leaving such a hole that people who knew him will never be able to forget.
While I ate my healthy lunch on the comfortable sofa in my peaceful, safe air-conditioned home, sipping as much potable water as I wanted, I remembered them. I thanked God for His Mercy toward me, and prayed for the people I can never forget. Their images are ever before my eyes. I contrast what I have with what they so desperately need. I pray again, this time for people who can give of their abundance to help those who have lost everything I take for granted.
I remembered and prayed after my long, hot shower. This luxury is denied to all those I prayed for.
I remembered and prayed as I took my life-sustaining medications, and knew that people were dying because war stopped them from getting their life-saving medications and medical treatments.
It weighs heavily on me that every day I speak with people who have been stripped of all of these things. I do not forget their suffering. I cannot forget their suffering. It keeps me awake at night, in my comfortable bed, where I lie in comfort and safety. I do not forget.
I can barely find mention of them on the television news. The media may have forgotten them, but we at the Holy Order of Saint George have not forgotten them. They are in our hearts and minds, every minute of the day, from the moment I wake up to birds singing at dawn to the moment I close my eyes in prayer at night, able to sleep peacefully, without bombs or tanks disturbing my sleep.
And then I wake, not having forgotten, anxiously look for word from our sources, and promise those I have come to love so fiercely that we will not let them be forgotten.