Discover more from Postcards From A Runaway
One Year Later
The power of tradition and remembering Mahsa Amini
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I enjoy religious traditions for the food with friends. Honey-dipped apples on Rosh Hashanah, a lamb tajine to break Ramadan, Christmas dinner followed by the equally revered American football. Spirituality is found in a savory meal shared with people you love and most appreciate. The real magic is bubbling in the kitchen, those moms (and occasional dads) doubled over a pot or pan, or sliding some massive bird out of the oven. For me these are the true healers and most divine.
Sacred holidays encourage observers to consider their blessings for the past year (as opposed to New Year’s Eve, which is all about resolutions for the one ahead). They also challenge us to contemplate death; to be grateful that Mr. Grim again missed our doorstep, but consider those obligations to which we aspire should our luck run out before the next celebration.
This is not a morose exercise. Quite the contrary, it’s a provocation to leap forward by looking back, to get our houses in order and ambitions pursued.
Why did I matter?
How will I be remembered?
Whom had I served?
Was the past year helpful in answering these questions? Most importantly, dear reader, when you sit at this same table of celebration next year (should Mr. Grim again miss your door) will you be closer to answering these questions?
I have a fascination with this theme and written more than a few Postcards about the merits of embracing our mortality – okay, perhaps accepting is a more comfortable word – and doing something about it, … now. With sunny titles like The Dead and the Dying and Prepare to Die I’m starting feel like Mr. Grim myself. But Rosh Hoshanah, starting today, offers another kitchen tradition for us all - from Jews to heretics like myself - to gather at the table, share in our good fortunes, and imagine what we’ll talk about at the next annual gathering.
On a more reverent note, today also marks the 1 year anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini, brutally murdered by the morality police in Tehran for the sin of not having her hair properly covered in public. She was a country girl with big dreams. College and law school and who knows what more. She had just stepped off the bus that sunny morning in Tehran. I imagine her small-town wonder at this big bustling city and all of its possibilities, the cafes and bazaars and city sounds and people, … the buzz and energy. This was taken from her, and her gift was taken from us.
We cannot forget Mahsa, or Jina as she was known to her Kurdish family. We must keep that candle burning bright as a torch, not only to her but all the women in this world suffering from the oppression of righteous men who know just how to keep them in their goddam place.
Like most of us I was deeply shaken by this unjust tragedy, and I wrote a song for Mahsa the next day called Little Bird (click here to listen).
Little bird with the broken wing, fly fly away.