What the Priest and the Nun Were Looking For – The Iraq Journals, Part 5

By | May 25th, 2017|A Contemplative Life, Travels Near and Far|

We drove up a narrow street in Qaraqosh, Iraq, practically an alley, and our driver stopped the van when he could go no further. A large group of soldiers stood at the entrance to the church, as if on the lookout for something, and they eyed up our vehicle. They [...]

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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 [...]

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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 [...]

“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 [...]

The Secret Power of Shrimp Vindaloo

By | June 8th, 2016|Guest Posts, Travels Near and Far|

On our first return to England from the U.S., we made the mistake of giving in to jet lag. On that particular trip, we arrived at our Wendover home and slept all day, a gorgeous, indulgent, heavy sleep that felt more like drowning. We slept from 10am until 4pm in [...]

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