Jews, centuries-old enemies of Muslims, still draw the disparaging term fox, with its connotations of evil: stealth, thievery, cunning, and wanton killing. However, twenty-six year old Mohammed al Samawi from Yemen has published The Fox Hunt – A Refugee’s Memoir of Coming to America (2018), and through this experience, tweaked this pejorative.

Raised in Sanna, Yemen, by strict Shiite parents, Mohammed excelled in his studies, a compensation for his stroke-damaged limbs, caused when an infant. Computer skills enhanced his academic pursuits that were colored by the imams’ interpretation of the Koran; their authority was never questioned.

However in 2012, Mohammed’s beliefs were shaken when one of his professors at the Canadian Institute offered him an English bible. Shocked by its revelation of God’s compassion that also filled the pages of the Koran, he shunted his career toward international business and set out to locate a Jew while working for the NGO, Partner Aid. A year-long hunt, in secret, ensued, until he bonded with Daniel Pincus, also attending the Muslim Jewish Conference in Bosnia. There, he also met like-minded peers, intent upon creating dialogues with warring factions in their Middle Eastern countries.

However by 2015, Mohammed’s passion for peacemaking precipitated death threats on his personal cell.

It was Daniel Pincus and others on social media who helped Mohammed escape from the flames of the Shia-Sunni civil war raging near his fourth floor apartment. For thirteen harrowing days, holed up in his bathroom, he prayed and responded to emails of his own Justice Corps.

Thus Daniel became the fox as depicted in the parable ascribed to the Jewish scholar Rabbi Akiva in second-century Caesarea, with which the author concludes this riveting memoir of transformation.

 

 

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“I’m seeing His face,” gasped Basil of Antioch as he emerged from his dream of the Last Supper; the beardless one, in the center, seemed to school his slender fingers as they tooled the damp clay into an astounding likeness: wise, discerning eyes set apart beneath the broad forehead, the long nose, the briefest of smiles that masked a tortured spirit.

Basil’s commission had been to fashion a circlet for the handcrafted pewter cup from which Jesus drank during His final meal, with the twelve in the Wall of David. He was to recreate this scene in silver, superimposed upon grape leaves. Arduous travels around the Middle East produced likenesses of all the participants save that of Jesus. Enemies of the Way were already mushrooming in the first century.

Such a narrative unfolds in Thomas B. Costain’s historical novel The Silver Chalice (1952). Its tattered blue cover, streaked with watermarks and smudges, opened me to the enthusiasm of Jesus’s first followers, alive with His teachings, in Jerusalem, Antioch, and Rome. No matter the dangers, even death, that courted them on all sides and compelling them to live in secrecy and poverty. In hushed tones they greeted each with “Jesus is risen!” My heart burned within me.

So why does Jesus’s simple message create persecutions that continue into our times, especially in Middle East Nigeria and other countries around the world? The Internet lists such atrocities.

Why the aversion to live His Way in humility?

It does work! It really does!

 

 

 

It was Saturday morning, the sun playing off rumpled scarecrows displayed upon a shelf near the entrance of the supermarket. Slouch hats bedecked with sunflowers covered shocks of orange yarn spilling upon shoulders, peeking from shirts and pants legs—nothing uptight about these field-warriors. Their stitched grins and rolling black eyes seized my imagination.

“Would you look at that! I must have one!” I said while loosening the scarf around my neck and stomping slush from my boots. Gone were the leach-like doldrums that had enveloped my spirit from the night before. In the face of such absurdity, there was no room for such nastiness.

That was decades ago. Since then, I’ve showcased my scarecrow in rooms around my house as a reminder of the disarming power of humor, especially when blatant evil seems to have the upper hand.

But there’s more to this image than the restoration of psychic balance. I’ve grown to equate it with God-Power within my depths. When flooded by the untoward, replete with confusion, pain, and speechlessness, I know to shut down, do nothing, and in the company of my scarecrow welcome the ludicrous. Eventually change occurs with the reemergence of the “wee small voice,” and with it, new lessens learned—stark reminders of my humanness with its graced foibles.

 

 

Yet still another upheaval awaits me around the next corner. Such growth is messy, but with my scarecrow, it works!

Available on Amazon

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