Shoes. It was a $10 pair of shoes purchased by friends. I simply delivered them to this woman who now lived in the crowded refugee camp. So, it was with some embarrassment that I accepted Izeta’s gratitude – a cup of steaming Bosnian coffee and the one small pastry she had somehow created on a single burner hotplate in the cramped dingy room she shared with two other families.
As I munched the pastry, Izeta pulled out a small photo album from under her bed roll. It was dirty and the cover was frayed from being handled too many times. Opened and closed, as if she turned the pages enough, perhaps she could return to a point before the horror. As she shared the pictures of an adult daughter who had been carried away by soldiers, and adult sons who had been tortured to death — her children, her babies — she remembered, and together, we wept.
After long moments, Izeta slowly made her way across the small room. There on the wall was a beautiful drawing of the mosque that had once been the center of her small city before it had all been destroyed by the shells fired from the guns of Christian soldiers. Hanging on a nail above the drawing were two strings of Islamic prayer beads. With great care, Izeta took one of the strings into her hands, turned back toward me, and gently and lovingly draped the strand of beads over my head.
And through the tears, I saw clearly. It was the One who had suffered most of all, the One who so often comes as the “least of these.” The Christ, incarnate in the life of a violated Muslim woman who still chose to love.