The long road to Damascus was once a breath-taking view of olives trees and lush gardens. The warm Mediterranean breezes delighted the senses and gave forth life. The world was born in this centrally located area, fondly named the fertile crescent. The soil was rich, and the hearts of the people were good. Over 2,000 years ago, the scenery was much calmer than it is today. In today’s world, the air has grown dark and dank. The people have grown weary and fearful. In the country of Syria, the road to Damascus has changed.
There once was a man named Saul. He was bitter and full of hate towards the new Christians in the land known as Syria. He set off on a mission to capture his foes and persecute them for their faith. As he neared his destination on the road to Damascus, the capital of Syria, he was struck down by a powerful force. A loud voice boomed from the heavens above and asked “Why?” His lack of strength made him crumble to the ground in awe and he saw nothing but darkness. Saul was blinded by the light and was changed forever by his encounter. He went on to change his name to Paul, was healed of his blindness and saw the world differently. He respected and worshiped the new God he had met on his journey and shouted the message of hope. He wrote about this experience and his conversion changed many lives besides his own.
The atmosphere in modern day Syria is dominated by death and destruction. There is little hope and many questions. Thousands have perished at the hands of their fellow men while unhappiness and strife is found throughout the land. The unrest is a consequence of greed and power. Hate is alive and love has disappeared. The end of the world seems to be at hand for the people of Syria, as each day passes away. The time for peace is the desire of the countrymen and their neighbors around the globe, but solving the ongoing turmoil can only be accomplished by a master mediator. The blending of religions in the country still beckons for unity. The nation is in need of a conversion of its own as uncertainty of existence betrays the mind. Gifts of talents, individual personalities and families have been destroyed and wasted. The lives that have been lost are forever. The forces of evil are prominent and it is depressing even from a distance. Humans lack the critical element to restore peace when their hearts and minds succumb to disease and denial. Syrians have lost their desire to care for one another, somewhere along the road to Damascus. Hope is available, but only to those who are willing and open to accept it. The country of Syria already has an answer for hope and peace under the scales of their blind eyes and souls. The answers and symbols will always be there as they wearily rest under the olive branch.
Written by: Roanne H. FitzGibbon