Lessons from Lebanon: Strangers

31 Mar

This week’s poem is the first of half-a-dozen in a collection entitled “Lessons from Lebanon”. There were so many fantastic experiences and surprises that I encountered there. This was one – totally unexpected – and we went with it. 

If you have travelled to the Middle East you will know of their unabashed welcoming of strangers. Typical conversations go as follows:

Lebanese: Where from?

Tourist (me): (caught off guard) …uh… (hmm… should I say America or England? England, definitely England.) America. (Drat!)

Lebanese: Welcome, welcome!

Tourist: (relieved) Thank you! I love Lebanon! (Ok, don’t go OTT.)

I just hope I can help others feel more welcome too, wherever I am in the world.


Wandering the Byblos markets, I saw a man

enjoying the sunshine and his za’atar meal

of thin freshly baked thyme seasoned bread

and shouting a greeting, thrust a torn wedge

in my direction. He would not take no for an answer.


So good, it could not be missed: the sharing:

their community, their looking out, their senses.

I left with the taste of welcome warm

salt in my mouth and a question in my mind:

when did I last share my meal with a stranger?


2 Responses to “Lessons from Lebanon: Strangers”

  1. Georgina April 2, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    so true, such lovely hospitable people – imagine stopping a stranger in the street to give them your lunch! without a word of english spoken, yet sharing a moment of pleasure. Thank you Mr bread man!

    • Jennifer April 2, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

      It was a very cool and weird moment! The hospitality of the people really made the trip awesome… and us, of course. We made it awesome too. 🙂

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