The Holy Spirit Grew Up In Ramallah: An excerpt from my book

I’m on page 140 of the book I am writing. I was doing some editing today and I thought I’d share a snippet with the world. Enjoy.


     With a sigh and a giggle I made it into Ramallah unscathed. Now I was to follow my instructions: “Go to the city center and find a policeman. Ask the police man how to get to the Ministry of Interior.” There was one major problem: it was the day before Ramadan and it was a Friday. Streets were overloaded with thousands of people walking and shopping. I was driving in a river of salmon madly swimming upstream as if their lives and legacies depended on it. I carved a path through their splashes and flops, a steady, “Well, at least its ten miles per hour” path. Creeping my way to the traffic circle bulls’ eye was tedious.

     Upon entering the confluence of this hub of streets (there are six streets which reach out from the manara/city center), I knew it was tactically unsound to attempt to stop in the whir of cars and people to ask a policeman for directions. I asked the Holy Spirit instead. “Holy Spirit, which street should I go down?” My eyes were drawn to the right. I knew it was that one. I turned. The very next cross street held the grin of a large police station. It was as if the Holy Spirit had grown up in Ramallah. The grin of the police station was an open driveway with a conspicuous, “NO PARKING” sign.  I read it as “Reserved for Dawn Richardson.” I pulled in. Arms waving, a policeman jaunted to my open window, “You can’t park here! You can’t park here!” I smiled, “I saw the sign, I just need to ask a question.” “What?!” he responded. “How do I get to the Ministry of Interior?” I asked, our conversation taking place in Arabic. He began to answer with landmarks, not street names: “Go down to Abdul the butcher’s, turn left, go two streets until you see the green door with the plastic tiger in front next to the old house where the mayor used to live, turn right, pass the pharmacy, go right, pass the Dar Awwad neighborhood, take the second left…” I was wide-eyed. The layers of insider knowledge and hard-to-catch landmarks were vast. I silently asked God to send me someone who spoke English who would get in the car with me and show me the way. The policeman saw my mental overload, “Wait. Let me get someone who speaks English!” “Okay,” I smiled. A young man hopped out of the building moments later and began giving me similar directions, this time in English. I started to write them down. “Wait. Could I get in the car with you and show you the way?” he jutted his epiphany-ized head at mine. “Yes, that would be great,” I answered. He slid around the car and into the passenger seat. This made the journey, while serpentine and complicated, smooth and relaxed. I was touched by Father God’s kindness.

     When we approached the Ministry of Interior, the policeman out front gave us special permission to park at the curb. When we walked inside the security officers knew my navigator-friend Ahmed and welcomed us cordially as we left our keys in their plastic tubs. When we ascended the escalator into the head office, the secretary, initially flustered by my foreignness, calmed under my new friend’s gentleness. Still, she said, “You wasted your time driving here. There is no way you can get this permission by Thursday. You can’t speak with the man in charge, because I know he will say, ‘no.’” I politely asked to see him anyway. “No, it is not possible,” she retorted, annoyed by my outlandish request.

     As with dozens of times over the previous two weeks, I crossed my arms casually and waited silently, thinking, “I’ve responded to the Holy Spirit, now it’s your turn.” She waited for me to leave. I remained. “Okay, I will ask him to see you,” she spouted, releasing inventoried air from her lungs’ warehouse. A moment later she said, “He will see you. Go on in.” I smiled, laughing to myself and thinking this woman did not yet realize she had become a significant role in The Play of the Miraculous, my Father, the Director was putting on.

     We entered the office and sat down. “What can I help you with?” the man queried. I explained, “I need an ID card for a girl from Bethlehem so I can take her and five other youth to a conference in Israel Thursday.” “That’s not possible. It takes at least two weeks to get an ID.” “I understand that’s the norm, but I am here to ask you to do what you can to make it happen by Monday so all six kids can go to the conference. It’s a really big deal for them and I am certain they will all go.” Back and forth we went: my “I don’t think it’s impossible” bouncing against his, “It’s impossible.” After a few rounds I said, “Could you call someone and ask?” “No,” he said. “There must be someone,” I added. “Well, let me make a phone call,” he said, his words wiggly like gelatin. He made the call. “I don’t think it will work,” he said. “I think there is a way and you can make it work,” I said sweetly, not impatient, but insistent. He shifted in his rolling office chair. I think he was especially squirmy because I was a woman, evidenced by the fact he continually turned to my friend and asked him to tell me it was “impossible.”

     Then he rolled back toward his desk, “I’ll be right back,” he spurted. I turned to Ahmed, “Do you know what a ‘miracle’ is?” I asked. “What?” “A miracle, you know muahjdeze,” I added. “Yes, I know what it is, but I have never seen one,” he explained, eyebrows vaulted. “You are about to see one,” I responded. “What?!” he said fascinated, and also a bit uncomfortable. “You are going to see a miracle,” I said. His furrowed forehead leaned in for more of an explanation, as the boss walked back in the door. The boss sat down. He wrote something on a business card and slid it across the desk to my hospitable hand. “This is my phone number. Call me on Sunday and I will make sure all the paper work is completed and the ID is in the Bethlehem office Monday morning.” I cracked a smile, my three year-old after a temper tantrum had walked gently back into the room and said, “Mommy, I love you.” Ahmed dropped his jaw, sharply yanking his eyes toward mine in shock. We stood. I thanked the boss; Ahmed nodded in a sort of traditional Palestinian salute to an older person. We walked out the door. The secretary was somewhere between baffled dismay and incomprehensible awe when we told her the ID would be ready Monday. We descended the stairs, collected our precious metals (keys, etc) from the plastic bin, and slid out the door.

     Upon entering the car Ahmed sat silently, eyes locked on the road. He gave me a few gestures to indicate where to turn, and then he said, “I have never seen anything like that.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “You knew he was going to get you the ID. How did you know?” “Well, I know God wants these six kids at the conference so I trust he will make a way for them to get there. He’s a good Father and He gives good gifts. I know God loves me and wants to do miracles for me.” “I have never thought of that!” he exhaled/exclaimed. “What do you mean?” I said. “I have never thought of God like that,” he added. “Oh, well, He loves you too. He wants you to know Him and He wants to do good things for you. If you talk to Him and ask Him to talk back to you, He will. He longs to talk with you.” “This is the first time I have ever heard of God like this. The God I hear about is harsh and you never know if He will accept you or not. He is not a friend.” Ahmed said.

     After he said this I began to prophesy over him: bits of his life dreams, his strengths, and his future. He was dazzled and a sort of rapturous delirium enveloped his face. I spoke a world into existence for him. He began to say, “I’ve never known people could hear God’s voice like this,” “Yes, and you will too,” I smiled. He began to get excited, “I’m going to start talking to him all the time: at work, at home, walking in the city. This is going to be great!” I was tickled by his enthusiasm and renewed sense of personal value. I dropped him off in the city center and he thanked me for changing his life. (Really, he used those words.) I drove safely and securely back to Bethlehem.