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So far Shawn has created 1192 blog entries.

The Autistic Iraqi Boy in the Hospital Bed, and the Song He Sang – The Iraq Journals, Part 4

By | May 11th, 2017|A Contemplative Life, Travels Near and Far|

I sat on a small stool in between two hospital beds. There were maybe twelve beds in the boys' hospital ward, which was actually a sturdy, huge, permanent tent. The tent was in the middle of an open-air trauma hospital surrounded by 12-foot-high cement blast walls topped with razor wire. [...]

Into Iraq – The Iraq Journals, Part 3

By | May 4th, 2017|A Contemplative Life, Travels Near and Far|

Erbil, Northern Iraq There was an Iraqi man sitting next to me on the plane as we approached Erbil. He motioned towards the window. “I love seeing Erbil at night,” he said, looking down on the lights. He sounded like a man talking about a woman or his [...]

On Mutual Fear, and Veiled Women Telling Their Stories: The Iraq Journals, Part 2

By | May 3rd, 2017|Faith and Doubt, Travels Near and Far|

The road in Jordan. The drive from Amman, Jordan, north to the city of Mafraq (also in Jordan) is a journey from the (vaguely) familiar into the foreign. Amman, at first glance, is a modern city, but as you drive north, the streets begin to fade, turning gradually [...]

Welcome to the Middle East: The Iraq Journals, Part 1

By | May 1st, 2017|Travels Near and Far|

It’s Friday morning at 2am and jet lag has turned my head into a solid block. I’m still nursing a strange, low-grade fever and a distant sort of headache. The house is quiet. I got home from Northern Iraq a little over 24 hours ago. There are things I will [...]

Further Thoughts on Going to Iraq (or, God is not Here)

By | April 18th, 2017|A Contemplative Life, Faith and Doubt, Identity|

Poppy at her first Maundy Thursday service, her sisters washing her feet. We walked the six blocks to Saint James on Good Friday, the sun shining, a spring breeze chasing us along the sidewalks. I pushed the double-stroller – occupants varying in combination between Poppy, Leo, Sam, and [...]

“Live a Little More Beautifully and Dangerously, as Christians Should”: Some Thoughts on Going to Iraq

By | April 4th, 2017|A Contemplative Life, Identity, On Writing, Travels Near and Far|

A normal night in the Smucker household. When Father David said what he said on Sunday morning, I immediately grabbed the pen my daughter was drawing with and scribbled his quote at the top of my bulletin. “Hey!” she hissed in quiet protest. Lucy and Cade looked over [...]

When a Passenger Might Have Thought I Was Going to Kill Her #RideshareConfessional

By | March 30th, 2017|Ridesharing Confessional|

Photo by Dogoff Zambrano via Unsplash I always try to remember to confirm a passenger’s destination before pulling away from the curb. When a girl climbed into the car a few days ago, I said the name of the street she was going to. “Yep,” she said, putting [...]