Stranger danger

A story from Twitter

Dylan was a USA soldier in Iraq. During his tour there he befriended a young Iraqi Brahim, who became an interpreter with Dylan’s patrol, saving their lives many times because of his understanding of the local situation and people. When Dylan finished his tour he said goodbye to his young friend, in the expectation that like most intepreters he would be killed.

Five years later Dylan was flying into Arizona suddenly because his beother had been murdered there. He got off the plane and took a taxi, whose driver told him that he was from Kirkuk, Iraq, where Dylan had been stationed. When the driver then became silent and tense, Dylan imagined that maybe he was related to someone he’d killed; and when the taxi went off route and pulled over, his hand was on the door handle, ready to jump. 

Instead the driver leant over and said, “ Don’t you recognise me Dylan, it’s Brahim!”

Dylan could only reply, “What the fuck are you doing in Arizona, buddy?”

Brahim explained that he’d completed his contracted 4 years as an interpreter, still alive, and taken advantage of a USA offer to be settled in the States. When he was asked what part of the States, he said any part where the weather was like Iraq. So they gave him Arizona.

Dylan dragged Brahim out of the car and the two men hugged and cried in the rain.

”I came there for the loss of a brother,” Dylan says, “and I found one.”

A story from the Bible

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[f] from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad.[g] 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ 19 He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth,[h] who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.[i] Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ 25 Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah[j]should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us[k] while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. ( Luke   Chapter 24)

When I heard the first story on the radio, I immediately thought of the second, which also features a stranger who reveals himself as a brother. The Emmaus story will be well-known to readers of this blog, as it is to me. The first story illuminates the second for me, in profound ways that would be trivialised if I were to describe them. I can only invite readers to read them together, and to let their own imaginations make the connections.


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