D is for Damascus Devotion & Delight–A to Z Blog Challenge

Pray for Syria by Steve EvansD imageWe are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/).  The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Kindness Across Cultures: Stories to Prove We Care.  Each post highlights present-day and folktale examples.

Damascus is also known as the City of Jasmine.  The Romans had commented on the sweet aroma of jasmine on the air. Although today the scent of gunpowder and blood are stronger, deep down this land yearns and provides moments of kindness.  The Syrian flag and colors picture here was taken by Steve Evans. He has granted permission for Story Crossroads to use this image.

Present-Day Devotion & Delight

Sean McLachlan reflected to the time when he had some smiles and tea with a Bedouin in Damascus.  The Bedouin never charged for the tea and listened despite the foreigner not knowing much Arabic.  Learn more of this instant friendship that will always be treasured in the piece “The Way of Kindness: Bedouin Hospitality in Damascus”:  https://www.aol.com/2013/09/25/way-kindness-bedouin-hospitality-damascus/.

Past Devotion & Delight (Folktale)

This Syrian folktale can be found in the book “The Power of Song And Other Sephardic Tales” by Rita Roth, published by The Jewish Publication Society.  The story happens to be the same one in the title…”The Power of Song.”

Here is a summary:

The King and all the kingdom rejoices when the Prince is born.  Seven years later, the people discover that although they love the Prince’s kindness and calm temperament, they worry when the Prince cannot learn the alphabet (Alef Bet).  The Prince is unable to read the Torah.  The King sends for sages to teach the Prince. Each sage has a different technique–from removing distractions to learning alongside other children to being outside to be taught.  Each time, the sage says that the Prince is incapable of learning. This angers and saddens the King.  One day, the King took a ride to shake his mind of sorrow. He came upon a Beggar with a shining face.  In, Jewish culture, this refers to Elijah in disguise seeking to help those who are good.  The Beggar asked the King why he was sad. The King shared everything, and the Beggar promised the Prince will learn to read through song.  The King laughed.  Word spread and a Songster arrived at the castle. The Songster sings with such skill and emotion that the King is moved. The King wished to repay the Songster. The Songster only wished to meet the Prince for he felt he knew how to teach the Prince to read.  They met, and the Songster only spoke through song to the Prince. Eventually, the Prince could work out rhythm and sang back.  The songs evolved from words to sentences that used the names and sounds of the alphabet.  Finally, the Prince read the Torah through singing it. The King and the kingdom rejoiced. The King looked to thank the Songster, but the Songster disappeared. The Prince remained a kind man throughout his life.

Interesting Notes on Kindness

  • The Prince is noted as being “sweet-tempered” and easily wins the love of the people
  • The Beggar/Elijah showed kindness in listening to the King’s problems and providing hope even if the King did not realize it at the time
  • The Songster/Elijah was devoted to the Prince and remained patient
  • People could see the friendship grow between the Songster and the Prince, and the basis of friendship is kindness
  • The Songster/Elijah disappeared to give the full delight between Father/Son, King/Prince
  • The Prince continued as how he always was…a kind man

What stories of kindness do you know associated with Damascus or Syria?  Anywhere in the world – past or present?  Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).  

We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.

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