RE10, Term 3, Week 8: Prayers and reflections
The Music of "Ephphatha"
A car bomb explodes on a commercial Baghdad street, killing ten people and injuring many more. Sadly, such destruction is not unusual in the Iraqi capital. But in the wake of this blast, something unusual did happen.
As police and the military secured the area, a man appeared wearing a black suit jacket, his long hair combed back. He unfolded a small chair and sat down. and then, amid the juggle and ash, he began to play his cello.
The musician is Karim Wasfi, the renowned conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra. Wasfi has been appearing at such sites around the city, playing his original composition titled Baghdad Mourning Melancholy. A deadly attack on his own Baghdad neighbourhood a few weeks ago prompted him to take his cello to the streets.
"The other side chose to turn every element, every aspect of life in Iraq into a war zone. I chose to turn every corner of Iraq into a space for civility, beauty and compassion."
Karim Wasfi's playing at the sites of such devastation attracts a wide-ranging and appreciative audience of soldiers, shop owners and residents of the destroyed neighbourhoods. Many listen in tears; his music truly inspires hope and perseverance and assures his fellow Iraqis that life, not death, is reality.
"Unlike what people think, we have a choice of fighting back," the maestro explains. "We can't just surrender to the impending doom of uncertainty by not functioning. But I think it's an awakening for everybody to make a choice and to choose how they want to live, not how they want to die.
"My message as an artist, as a conductor, also as a cellist: that when things are abnormal, we make things normal. We make things worth living for."
In times of grief, fear and despair, we can be "deaf" to the presence of God, isolating ourselves from God's compassion and hope in the midst of such pain. Jesus calls us to remain open - "Ephphatha" to the possibilities for transformation through selfless love, for re-creation by being generous, and for restoration brought about by perseverance and courage.