This is part of a story of a father and mother, Greg and Tara Mortenson.
Greg co-wrote the book , Three Cups of Tea, about his peace work
building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I picked up this book
this morning because I had remembered it as being poetry in action.
This small quote is about the birth of their daughter in 1996:
“At seven in the morning on Sept. 13, 1996, exactly a year since the
fateful evening at the Fairmont Hotel, Tara felt her first contraction.
At 7:12 p.m., accompanied by a tape of chanting Tibetan monks
that her father had chosen, Amira Eliana Mortenson made her first
official appearance on the planet. ‘Amira’, because it meant “female
leader” in Persian. And ‘Eliana’, which means “gift of God”, in Chagga,
the tribal language of the Kilimanjaro region, after Mortenson’s late
beloved sister, Christa Eliana Mortenson.
After the midwife left, Mortenson lay in bed, cocooning with his wife
and daughter. He placed a multicolored ‘tomar’, Haji Ali had given
him, around his daughter’s neck. Then he struggled with the cork
of the first bottle of champagne he’d ever purchased.
“Give it to me,” Tara said , laughing and traded Mortenson the baby
for the bottle. As his wife popped the cork, Mortenson covered
hid daughter’s small soft head with his large hand. He felt a
happiness so expansive it made his eyes swim. It just wasn’t
possible, he thought, that those detained eight days in that kerosene-
smelling room and this moment, in this cozy upstairs bedroom in a
house on a tree-lined street, snug in the embrace of his family,
were part of the same world.
“What is it?” Tara asked.
“Shhh,” he said, smoothing a furrow from her forehead with his
free hand before accepting a glass of champagne, “Shhh.” ”
I find I am now living in a world strangely like that contrasting
experience. So, I have shared this story to remind us of the
value of tenderness and the amazing resilience of the human
Thank you, all the forces that be.
always with love,