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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Christmas Letter from Pakistan

Isn't the internet wonderful where we can pass along wonderful first-hand accounts so quickly?

This particular message was forwarded to me by Barbara who received it from the Rev. W.Nicholas Knisely of Trinity Episcopal Church, Bethlehem, PA..... thank you, Fr. Knisely for sharing it with us and Dr. Knisely for writing it..... I'll let Nick take it from here......

Christmas letter from Pakistan

I got this email from my youngest brother Major Thomas Knisely, MD this morning. He's a doctor in the Army and is working in the Army's last remaining MASH unit which is deployed in quake region in Pakistan. His wife Denise and their children Sam and Brooke are living on the base in Wurzburg Germany. I'm sharing it with his permission.

"It was 0530 in the morning on the 26th of December. Christmas in Pakistan came and went and my disillusionment had hit its peak. Through the phone I heard the excitement in Sam and Brooke's tales of gifts they collected, I heard the sounds of my friends enjoying the day and I heard the strength in Denise's voice as she continued our life in my absence. I heard these things, but I wasn't listening. My thoughts were distracted.

"I missed Christmas Morning with my family and friends. I missed the chance to give my family the gifts I gathered in Pakistan. I missed the warmth and comfort of a normal bed. And I missed indoor plumbing.

"It was thirty minutes ago when I felt the joy of Christmas. Over the past two weeks I've had to cover night shift in the ER. 14-hour shifts, 6 days a week was taking its toll. I was lying down in an empty ICU trying to pass the time when a nurse entered and began to talk to her husband on the phone. I couldn't help but overhear some of the conversation. As I heard her describe the gifts she received and the activities she shared with the families of her inpatients, her words reminded me of what our presence here means.

"The last day of Ramadan is called Eid. Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan by creating extravagant feasts, traveling to their relatives houses, exchanging gifts, and wearing new clothes. Only on these very special holidays do Muslim women of Pakistan use a vegetable dye to paint beautiful temporary tattoos on their palms called hina. To a Muslim, the Eid after Ramadan is their Christmas. In November, we were privileged to observe our Pakistani friends celebrate Eid. Today was our turn. To those of us on night shift, very little about the 25th of December was different from any other day. As a physician treating up to 50 patients a day in the primary care tent, I have been fully immersed into the Pakistani people's lives. But on the 25th of December only sleep deprivation and a painfully slow night shift awaited.

As the nurse explained her Christmas experience to her husband, I began to understand what Christmas meant to me this year. The gifts our Pakistani friends gave today, the cakes and special foods the Pakistani's brought for our celebration and the hina that the Pakistani women painted on our soldiers' palms was a tribute to our cultures acceptance of each other. To me, Christmas in Pakistan means to not only respect other ways of life, but also to embrace the unique differences in our religions and traditions. I'll remember this Christmas for a long time.

Merry Christmas, Tom"----

(The Rev.) W. Nicholas Knisely
Trinity Episcopal Church, Bethlehem, PA


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