Passover, Easter, Spring: The Stories of Us All

Monday, April 10, 2017 - 4:08 pm
This view of the Yamuna River in Agra, India was taken in 2000. It is the landscape that can be seen from the back of the Taj Mahal. (Photo by Matthew Septimus.)

Passover, Easter, Spring: The Stories of Us All

Life is an endless series of stories, the stories of us all. Holidays, no matter whose they are, celebrate these stories. They persist, in spite of politics, in spite of wars. It’s the stories we celebrate: of liberation, of rebirth, of flowers that always appear after winter.

Passover, Easter, Spring

On my way to my friend Bruce’s apartment
I met a man named Ahmed.
“I am a Syrian refugee,” he said.
“Can you help me?” “I’ve been thinking about
Syrian refugees. How to help and what to do.
“My four children have no food,” he said.
“Where do you live now?” I’m not sure why I asked him that.
“Do you want to go there?” he said.
“Not now but maybe another day. “
In my notebook he wrote
an address and then
children’s ages and their names.
I had twenty dollars
in my wallet to give  to him and we
said goodbye and I felt something
was wrong. But what?
I told this story many times and most people thought
Ahmed was not who he said maybe he was not
even a Syrian refugee I believe he was
a man named Ahmed who  needed twenty dollars
Was there more?

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is a novelist and poet living in New York City. She’s the author of several books, including Book Doctor. Read more of her writing on her blog I Am and I Am Not.

is a professional photographer who lives in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn with his wife, two children, dog, cat, and the various birds he feeds in his backyard. See more of his work at

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  • Gabby

    One aspect of Passover is inviting anyone who is hungry to the table, with particular attention to the stranger. After the meal in addition one leaves a cup of wine for the prophet Elijah, who in Judaism often shows up as a stranger, in disguise.
    Many faiths, I believe, involve an angel or spirit of some sort who comes to people in disguise to find out, among other things, whether people will be charitable or lend a hand to the most humble.
    Perhaps there was nothing wrong at all in the encounter you describe. Perhaps that disguised spirit is who Ahmed was.

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