Friday, October 10, 2014

Christian Persecution and Saints at the Well

My last post was a little bit of an overview of the local Catholic conference I was a vendor at, and today I want to share two stories from the conference: the lovely lady from Iraq and the Tiny Saints.

The Lovely Lady from Iraq

As a vendor at a conference, you get to talk to so many people, and every so often there is a conversation that stays with you. On Saturday, I was helping a customer select a Spanish mantilla when I noticed a lady waiting to talk to me. When I was done and turned to talk to her, I noticed she was about as tall as my maternal grandmother. She asked me what I had in very light lace, and as we talked about the French mantillas I carry, I noticed a slight accent. So I decided to ask her where she was from.

"Minnesota", she said. "We didn't have to travel far to come to this conference".

I said, "Oh, OK, that's not far at all. Where are you originally from?"

She hesitated. Immediately I sensed why, "I ask, because my grandmother was from the Middle East and you remind me of her".

"She was? From where?", she asked. "Beit-Jala, Palestine," I replied, "and my grandfather's family, from Bethlehem." "Ah," she said, "I am from Iraq."

Silver Star marking Christ's birthplace - Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Palestine

The conversation that ensued was one of the most emotion-filled I have had in a long time. We talked about our hesitation, as Middle Easterners, to say where we (or our ancestors) are from, because of the assumption that Middle Eastern is synonymous with terrorist. We chuckled at how every time, we have to explain to people that the original Christians - those who followed Christ from the very beginning - are our ancestors. No, we aren't terrorists - far from it. We are the survivors of Christian persecution, the living proof that no matter how bad things get, there is hope, there is a future, and Christians will live on, even if that means in other countries.

The Arabic letter N, "nun", used by Muslims to identify Christians (Nazarenes).

Of course we talked about Iraq and the persecution Christians are suffering  now, and how we both know it will take centuries to reestablish a Christian presence there - an awareness that neither one of us is sure the West has fully realized.

Our families fled the Middle East, looking for peace and stability - and employment. Some came to the US, some to Latin America. In the end, we are all over the planet, really, and I'm always surprised at how easily conversation flows simply because of that shared history as Christians - regardless of which Middle Eastern country we hail from.

Of course, the conversation was made complete when we talked about family and food - the two things that come in tied at second for Middle Eastern Christians, right after our faith. When the lady left, my daughters remarked that it was amazing how quickly she and I hit it off, "like you had known each other for years, mom."

Saints at the Well

Sunday came fast, and both the girls and I realized that if we wanted to look around at what other vendors offered, we had to get going. So we took turns visiting other booths. One that had stood out to all 3 of us when we came in in Saturday was the Tiny Saints. So Angelina and I set off to go visit them, leaving Luciana to keep our booth company.

Have you seen these amazingly cute, tiny little saint charms? No? Well, here's a sneak peek:
They come on a lobster clip, so yo can attach them to almost anything! Car/house keys, backpack, jacket zipper - even your dog's collar! You can click on any of the pictures to see more Tiny Saints!

Here are two of my favorites (for now - they are all soooo cute)!

Needless to say, it was hard to decide which one to pick. We spent a good 20 minutes just looking, and reading each saint's story on the back of the package. Then, I convinced Angelina to go back to the booth and send Luciana over. Another 20 minutes spent admiring and picking out saint charms! The Tiny Saints gals were so kind and friendly - very easy to talk to.

Speaking of persecution and our Christian faith - what a great way to celebrate the saints (many of whom were persecuted!) and learn about them. They make great gifts for young and not so young alike! My kids each got one, and I'm planning on getting them some more for Christmas.

What about you? What do yo think about the Tiny Saints? Leave a comment below.

Pax Christi.

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