REYHANLI, Turkey — Journalists are banned from Atmeh, Syria’s largest refugee camp of 22,000 people, so I had to pose as a social studies student when I went on Friday.
While there, I encountered a remarkable little girl.
Standing outside a tent in the blistering heat, she looked at me, and I looked at her. Then, all of a sudden—how do these things happen?—we’d stumbled beyond introductions and into something scathingly more real, a deep, secret place that makes vulnerable that easily-bruised nub of being.
You know the place. It’s that soft, piercing place, the place of meditation and of prayer; the place that pulsates painfully in moments of heartbreak, the place capable of being helplessly, inexplicably magnetized by another.
Mine was dark and surely cobwebbed, so long has it been since anyone’s gained access. I haven’t a clue how a seven-or-eight-year-old Syrian girl broke in. We were staring at one another, but it was more like we’d fallen inside one another. Time stopped, at it does in moments of power that can transform and transcend one’s humanity.