Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Foundation that Holds Us Together


Looking outside my window I see a lovely field, sundappled and windblown. The goats are browsing along its edge, wishing, I bet, for the fresh leaves they remember from summer. The children are working on a playhouse outside, the dogs running and barking, hoping to entice them to play. The gardens are mulched now, and I know that come Spring we will be harvesting rocks for days before we can plant a single seed. The Ozarks are beautiful, with a surface abundance that belies their rock and clay skeleton. A wild, beautiful place that reminds me of another land that I loved and called home for almost ten years.

I once saw an optical illusion, where if you looked at a drawing a certain way it looked like a young woman, but from another angle it appeared to be an elderly one. Yemen is like that, the old and the new juxtaposed, shifting, always giving a glimpse of one when you are looking at the other. I found this especially to be true in the villages, where life goes on in the same manner it has for hundreds of years, while the people are struggling to enter into the twenty-first century. Brightly colored clothing splashed against a backdrop of varied browns and tired greens, the heady fragrance of bread and spices at noontime, the call of the vegetable sellers unchanging, making time fluid, hard to hold onto.


The same things that draw me to the Ozarks drew me to Yemen, and, before that, to the Driftless Region of Southwestern Wisconsin. Place, for me, often echoes what I value in myself and others. Strength, for one, as shown in the trees that come up in spite of the bad soil and rocks that make up the land itself. Honesty, the knowledge that what you see is what you get, mixed with hope that what is there can be improved with hard work, attention, and love. Compassion tempered with fate, something everyone who raises animals understands. I have lived in many places in my life, but the ones I have truly connected to have lived for me, and taught me more about myself than I would ever have thought possible.

Yemen, right now, is a hotspot, an incredibly poor country being made even poorer by the war that is raging across it, the same war that caused me to leave it when the Arab Spring was in full bloom. I am guessing that even now, very few people could pinpoint it on a map, or list any of the major cities, yet alone speak of the rich history and culture of this ancient land. To me, having walked both it and my home in America with love, respect, and reverence, the differences between them are beautiful and soul stretching. Yet, it is the chords that run through both of them, holding them together even in their diversity, that touch me the deepest. My love of both lands will make my upcoming book, Yemeni Journey, a bridge that connects them, celebrating the richness of difference while at the same time showing that truly, the foundation that runs beneath them unites us, and keep us strong.


Khadijah Lacina lives on a small homestead in rural Missouri with her children, goats, chickens, cats, dogs, and an elusive bobcat. She is passionate about speaking up and working for change, and is writing a book about the ten years she spent in Yemen. She is a writer, teacher, translator, herbalist, and fiber artist.

29 comments :

  1. It must be terrifying to have to leave a place due to the threat and/or actuality of war. Much love to you and your family, Khadijah.

    And welcome to the Blood-Red Pencil :-)

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    1. Thank you- for the love, and the welcome. I am looking forward to sharing this space with you all!

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  2. The beauty and love with which you speak of two lands touches my heart. They live for you, breathe for you, and cry for you. The places of our world are torn by conflicting ideologies, by those determined to rule and force their beliefs on the rest of us. The land suffers. The people suffer. Yet somehow the land and the people who love it live on, perhaps in reality, perhaps in the minds and hearts of those they've touched. This is a stunning expression of love, Khadijah, a beautiful tribute to the places that have shaped who you are and given you their love. Welcome aboard. I look forward to your future posts and to reading your book.

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    1. What you say is so true, Linda, and comforts me. Whenever I read about the war and the famine that is ripping Yemen apart, I wonder how many of the people who I knew, who touched my life and helped to shape me for so long, are gone, or their lives ripped apart. It is heartbreaking. But you are right, they do live on, and I will make sure they have a voice.

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  3. A beautiful piece and such a delight to find it here. The connection between Yemen and the Ozarks, the quality of home, couldn't be more more timely or more beautifully realized. Eager to see your book!

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    1. Thank you. I don't think I realized some of the connections until I actually began writing this piece. It's odd how things become clear when you look at them a different way.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this quiet, gorgeous, thoughtful "teaser". I look forward to reading your book!

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    1. Thank you, Margaret. It's been a journey, I hope to share it soon.

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  6. 'Brightly colored clothing splashed against a backdrop of varied browns and tired greens, the heady fragrance of bread and spices at noontime, the call of the vegetable sellers unchanging, making time fluid, hard to hold onto.'...........pure poetry.

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    1. Poetry is my first love! Thank you so much for your comment.

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  7. What a lovely article. I read it over twice, the second time just to savor the poetry of the words. Like you, I am very connected to the land and "place" and my heart is not happy when I cannot be immersed in nature.

    Welcome to the BRP team. You are a great addition to our group.

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    1. Thank you Maryann. I am looking forward to working with you all. I have learned a lot from you, and I am sure I will continue to do so!

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  8. I always enjoy your writing style. It pulls the reader in, making me feel as if I too was apart of your journey. I can not wait for the book.

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    1. Thank you, Zakkiyah. I am hoping the book will do that too!

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  9. You write so elegantly, Khadijah. Thank you for joining us on the blog. Welcome aboard!

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    1. Thank you for inviting me, and for always being such a support and encouragement for me, Dani.

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  10. Also, let's put your children's book in the sidebar!

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    1. https://www.amazon.com/Slice-Sunshine-Poetry-Colors/dp/1451527098/

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  11. Echoing what everyone else said: beautiful writing. So visually descriptive. Welcome to the Blood Red Pencil, Kadijah.

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    1. Thank you so much. I'm excited to be here, and learn and grow with you all.

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  12. We need more stories like yours. Thank you for sharing it and I look forward to reading your book.

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    1. Thank you for that, it helps me keep going, working to finish it.

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  13. I can't even imagine what it would be like to leave a land I love because of war. I'll look forward to reading your future posts on The Blood-Red Pencil and your book, Yemeni Journey.

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    1. It was heartbreaking. The thing was, it was leaving home to come home. A very mixed up time.

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  14. Your writing has eyes; I can't wait to "see" what your book has to say!

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    1. Thank you, Audrey. I am thinking I will be hiring you to edit it when I get to that stage, so you may be seeing it before anyone else!

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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