27 November 2015
INTERNATIONAL POEM: Advent’s Eve, 2005
by Tim Nafziger*
On that last day of ordinary time
Norman, Harmeet, Jim
and Tom walk across a parking lot
in Baghdad and get into a van.
Years later, Jim can’t remember “those last,
next morning (the first Sunday of Advent)
BBC called me at noon.
voice at the other end of the line was chasing rumors:
heard that four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams were kidnapped.
do you know?
if Christians took the same risks for peace…
The van exits the lot, abruptly stops;
Men with big guns open the door,
shove the four to the floor
and into the tomb.
soldiers do for war?
Waves broke across our ordinary time:
Across the tapestry of CPT
Arriving through phone lines wet with tears
at those four threads ripped away from so many
do I know?
sown together with soft words and shared food:
fish from the Opon river at dawn,
stew beneath the trees of Treaty 3 land,
and pita just beyond Damascus gate on the northern wall
hundreds of cheese sandwiches in Chicago
do you know?
After three days of frenetic silence
Al-Jazeera showed a video from the Swords of
with our four friends:
frayed, cut, standing in the light
do we know?
Our cheek turning footsteps behind that foolish
Our naive refusal to bow down before the AK-47
Our “hobnobbing with the Sunni extremists”
Splashed across the headlines.
Yet the first candle is lit.
*Tim Nafziger was a reservist with Christian
Peacemaker Teams living in London in 2005 during the kidnapping of Norman
Kember, Harmeet Singh Sooden, Jim Loney and Tom
Fox. He wrote this poem for the 10th anniversary of the date they were taken.
Quote 1: From p. 13 of “Captivity: 118 Days
in Iraq and the Struggle for a World Without War” by James Loney, Vintage Canada Trade, 2012
Quote 2: From “Kember deserved to be
kidnapped, says Tim Collins” by Thomas Harding, The Telegraph, 10 May 2006
Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1517955/Kember-deserved-to-be-kidnapped-says-Tim-Collins.html