Via Basel: A Tale of Two Countries

Code of Hammurabi

75th Birthday Post

The Longest Journey, Mesopotamia to The New World

Born in the land of the ancients,
of Warriors, Kings, and Prophets.
Civilization rises and empires fall.
His roots are deep,
his ancestors steeped
in faith and tradition.

Devastating 2nd World War ending,
humanity recovering, as he’s arriving,
radled in a warm Muslawi clan.
owered with love and nurture,
n idyllic childhood, privileged and protected,
he thrives, is focused and determined.
His country rocked with revolutions, coups,
and counter coups. He survives, he waits.

Restless and ambitious,
the 24-year-old young man breaks out,
unleashed, ignoring borders,
leaping over continents,
flying high over oceans,
touching down on
“Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.”

A spectacular contrast of history and geography.
3500 years from Hammurabi and the 1st Code of Law,  
to George Washington and the U.S.  Constitution.  
6500 miles, from the banks of the river Tigris,
to the shores of Lake Michigan.
Minarets and old churches 
to skyscrapers in a city with broad shoulders.
From agricultural inventions,
to digital age transformations,
the old and the new,
all mixed in a brewing stew.

Forged by circumstances never expected,
struggles survived, desires satisfied.
Five life-packed decades, 
varieties of experiences, 
both breathtaking and haunting,
at times exhausting.

The 4th quarter is about to start
in this game of his life.
A little weary, he’s prepared 
to play on, with gusto,
yet knowing,
with a calm acceptance,
that anytime now
the referee’s call
will end it all.

This story is his, but is only part
of our story, yes, all of us,
in the big tent of The Story.”

In awe of what he’s been given,
In gratitude, 
To fate, mystery, and the unnamed,
To galaxies, planets, and suns proclaimed,
To creatures both like and unlike him at all,
To all around, both seen and unseen,
To all who are precious, loved, and adored,
To all suffering, neglected, and scorned,
To young souls, both born and unborn,
To Sophie and Ava and generations yet unknown.

Basel Al-Aswad, father of EIL founder Christopher Al-Aswad, is a yogi trapped in an Orthopedic Surgeon’s body. His loves in life include reading, writing, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family, and now, semi-retired, he is exploring new avenues in medicine, education, and social engagement. With this poem, he is celebrating his 75th birthday.

Richard Rohr, “The Story”


U.S. Constitution, via Junior Scholastic


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