Dance Toward Freedom | Water Street Dreams | Refugee photographer

This past November
I was given the opportunity to submit
written words alongside images
taken up at Peninsula State Park,
to an art gallery event called "Culture," 
sponsored by Roughhewn People
My heart's desire is that as you read this true story
about a dear refugee friend of mine,
that your heart would be moved toward
the global refugee crisis
and not left indifferent or uninvolved.
Without a doubt, story reveals hearts.
Story puts faces to issues.
And story heals.

THE Dance Toward Freedom
Not Without Cost
To know her is to know
that the vibrant dance in her soul
must have always been there.
While man tried to rob her of freedom’s dance,
God whispered gently in her ear
that her day was approaching.
The waltz for a freer tomorrow was unfolding.
Her dance toward freedom,
while laden with sorrow and loss,
started as a fight for justice,
when courage to leave her home culture,
welled up deep within.

In search for escape from a wildly abusive husband,
feeling ‘caged’ and unseen,
her plan quickened.

Knowing her male-dominate culture wouldn’t afford her protection,
she gathered up her children,
packed a simple bag,
tucked into her heart the beauty of her culture,
the memories of her lifetime,
and murmured forever goodbyes to all she had ever known
–her land, her home, her culture, her family.

The weight of a forever goodbye.
The dance set in motion.
Not without cost.

By cover of night and fear for their lives,
she journeyed with her two children and younger brother
up and over that last mountain range.
Soldiers lurked in darkness,
aiming to kill.
Stumbling precariously close to cliff’s edges 
while balancing a child in arms.
Collapsing in exhaustion.

Terror nipping at heels,
motivating every step,
one foot in front of the other,
hour after hour.

Desperation driving actions.
Headlong across that invisible line,
relief floods in as Turkey opens its borders.

Turkey said yes to refugees.
A country she would call home for years.

Her dance toward freedom still in motion.
Not without cost.
Painstaking efforts to learn a new dance.
Navigating a new culture and a new language.
Starting over.
Completely over. 
A solo dance of sorts.

The dance toward freedom was in motion.
Not without cost.
Long hours.
Hard work.
Persistent trips to the United Nations office,
humbly crying out for a listening ear,
a compassionate heart.
Hunting for Mercy.
Hope.
Freedom.

Reviewing past terrors in efforts to prove status
as a legitimate refugee.
Interviews ad nauseam.
Paperwork onslaught.

The dance toward freedom;
prolonged, strenuous.
Not without cost.
God’s whisper of hope intersected her life through Sister Bennie.
An angel in her eyes.
Housing. Feeding. Tending. Listening.
Whatever you do to the least of these.

An introduction to Jesus Freedom.
 Not without cost.

Her dance cost Him everything.
Word eventually came that a new home awaited across the seas.
Two years in the making.

One ticket short given U.S. refugee regulations,
her mid-twenties,
Middle Eastern brother was left behind.
Another painful goodbye.
More loss.

Dancing toward freedom.
Not without cost.
Touching down on American soil one 2015 winter’s day,
with her two children held tight,
freedom felt closer.

New friendships forged.
Support systems in place.
Hope proffered.
The dance toward Freedom involving another new culture.
Unfamiliar music.
Varied rhythms.
Novel melodies.
Unusual tunes.
The dance toward freedom.

Certainly not without heartache and loss.
Not without hardship and sadness.
Not without fear.
Not without cost.

But her new dance partner.
Oh her new Dance Partner.
Beautiful.
Solid.
Grand.
Safe.

Her Forever Partner.
He bubbles up and spills out.
Unbridled Joy.
Forgiveness granted frees her soul.
Trust rooted in knowing her Dance Partner’s trustworthiness.
A faith that moves mountains.

Dancing toward Freedom.
Years in the making.
And just like that,
her dance to freedom became
her dance IN freedom.

A Dance IN Freedom.
The direct result of the cost in her journey.

A dance IN freedom.
She owns this dance.
She lives this dance.
She loves this dance.

A dance IN freedom.
Full of Love.
Full of Joy.
Full of Hope. 
Full of Transformation. 
Full of Community.

Full of Gospel.

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