Grain Of Salt: Naeem

Grain Of Salt: Naeem

A story on captivity, torture, and internal trauma.
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NAEEM

An infinity of love,

An infinity of grace,

An infinity of pain,

An infinity shaped like 2 chains.

Mother used to always mutter this.

Like a verse that helped her keep her sanity, a verse of hope, a verse of reason; I never really understood what that meant until...

To be born a girl is the worst thing that could happen to you.

I overheard them say this to Nadia the person standing two feet away from me.

The only difference between a girl and a boy, I remember mummy say, was that a girl had two private, always closed parts--up and down, and the boys had two too--down physically and one metaphysically--their ego. Both of which are never hidden sadly. They dangle it to continuously prove that difference.

But why mummy? Why them and not us? Why do they do it?.......

At the tender age of 15 not only was this physically proved over and over again but I was made a participant as well. Mummy didn't prepare me for this. I might as well save you the grace of them not ripping the identity I give you as you will invariably take on the identity they give you of being nothing more than a girl. What you don't have in the 1st place they can't take. I can protect you to that extent.

But physically I'm helpless. She said all this with a straight face, showing nothing more than resilience.

Nothing more than a girl? But mummy you already told me that we are better than boys as we have greater control and power over ourselves and don't seek it externally to be proven to us on a continuous basis like those, what was the word she used? ah yes! Nycompoops.

Ever since daddy left us to join a cause of the greater good and getting a better seat at the hand of "God", mummy got even stronger. He was basically protecting himself, coward! These tiny snippets of wisdom keep coming back to me as "they" hose us down, yet again to prepare us as they keep shouting. None of the girls around me know what that entails and resort to crying to keep them company and give them a kind of shelter, but my mind doesn't stop whirring around the what of it all. Mummy had definitely included it in one of her talks.

A new/fresh batch was brought in today. There were 40 this time. The batch keeps getting bigger and bigger and the room more jammed making no room for the physical. The men in black trash-can clothes give us the command to strip, hose us down, scream long live God, throw morsels of food at us and leave us in the dark as we fight for whatever tiny bits of life we can grab, like ravenous ravens. Yet again!

Day 5. Either my time hadn't come or I was a log for the common pyre to burn harder and brighter to send a strong message to the “non-believers”. The stubborn. But not until your purpose is fulfilled they kept reassuring us with the smug grin of a trained assassin.

We were SPECIAL they told us, every aspect our physicality having meaning. Hair to be used as a handle, our faces beautiful to remind the perpetrators that what they were doing in the form of rape/child bearing was a beautiful thing for the larger purpose of breeding a new generation of militants. And our bodies devoid of souls that we gave unto them for the greater good of purifying their land. We were the catalysts they kept reminding us, as they threw us out to either bleed to death or cry to death or even starve to death as we were crumpled like tissue papers after they wiped themselves on us.

Coming from a small town in Iraq-Silcus, I was named Naeem by my parents as an anti-symbol of turmoil, struggle and war surrounding us always, even as the greatest struggle stared them in the face over and over again—I was a girl. And girls more or less had the same path laid out for them even before they were born, to be Khums—tax money, if the family ever wanted to live with the peace of knowing that they would be kept alive and they should be glad as there is no greater purpose in this world than to be a vessel of pleasure unto God and His loyal “sons”. And my mother took a combat to this line of thought by raising me in strict Yazidi traditions and cultures, using the fire against fire approach as she refused to give me any other identity other than this one that I’ll need when the time comes. And so I was Yazidi, a Yazidi with an uncertain future but a definite end.

Lumm Sayaaf reminded me of my mother at times as she tried her best to be a strong protective mother-hen of the coop, protecting us whenever she could from abuse and sometimes even offering herself up as sacrifice--but the “they” made sure that the division between married and unmarried was as demarcated as the distinction between men and women--rescinding to the rooster of her husband as he pecked at us from the orders of the “them”.

Sayaafa abba entered that day with three girls who looked like they came from another part of the world, white as milk, dressed in the garb of men of trousers and a jacket, they had their hair pulled up into a bun on top of their heads as opposed to veil covered heads that I was used to and spoke in a tongue that I couldn’t make head or tail of. Abba spoke to one of them in our language who seemed to get the gist of it as she translated the same to her friends in the foreign tongue and accent. Even though they clearly were the crème of our existing group and exotic as Nadia whispered to me, the one thing we all had in common was fear. Not fear of the unknown but fear of the devil in what was about to come. And the only thing that stuck as I strained my ears to listen was the word Nina.

Cover Image Credit: pexels

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48 Of The Best Catholic Mass Songs

Check out this list of some of my favorites!
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I love to sing.

But, I am very bad at singing. One thing I love about Mass is that I get to sing as loud and as terrible as I want, and that is a beautiful thing. I've compiled a list of what was originally going to be 10 of my favorite songs to sing at Mass, but as you can see, my list quickly became 5 times longer. Enjoy!


1. "All are Welcome"

A great reminder that we are to love our neighbors, no matter how different we are.

2. "All is Well With My Soul"

A refreshing reminder that God forgives our sins, and we are in good hands.

3."Amazing Grace"

A classic, powerful song that shows just how much grace means to us.

4. "Ave Maria"

A beautiful song honoring the Virgin Mary, a role model for all women.

5. "Be Not Afraid"

A reminder that no matter what we're going through, God is with us through it all.

6. "Blest Are They"

A guide on how to live out the Beatitudes.

7. "Canticle of the Sun"

A joyful tribute to God's Creation.

8. "Center of My Life"

A reminder to put God first, a reminder which is always necessary in this materialistic and egocentric world.

9. "Change Our Hearts"

An uplifting song reminding us that God saves even the most disobedient of his people if they give their hearts to Him.

10. "Christ Be Our Light"

A classic song that reminds us even in our darkest of days, Christ will light the path.

11. "City of God"

A song inspiring the building of God's Kingdom- something we should strive to do as Christians.

12. "Come Back to Me"

A song all about repentance and forgiveness- God is waiting for us with open arms every time we fail him.

13. "Companions on the Journey"

A reminder that we are not alone in our journey to spread the Good News, and we can work together to spread His Word.

14. "Eye Has Not Seen"

A reminder of the joy and happiness that awaits us in Heaven.

15. "Fly Like a Bird"

A comforting song reminding us that we will always be in God's care.

16. "For the Beauty of the Earth"

A song that captures the essence of how wondrous Creation is.

17. "Glory and Praise to Our God"

A song full of thanksgiving and praise to God who showers us with blessings every day.

18. "Go Out Go Out"

One of the favorites at my school- essentially a "pump up" song to go spread the Gospel.

19. "Here I am Lord"

A encouraging song, inspiring us to serve the Lord with all the talents we have.

20. "Here I am to Worship"

One of my all time favorite gathering songs that inspire me to give all the glory to God.

21. "How Can I Keep From Singing"

A reminder that God's works are wondrous and He is deserving of all our praise.

22. "How Great Thou Art"

A classic song inspiring us to look around and see God in everything and everyone.

23. "I Am the Bread of Life"

A comforting song telling us that if we live our lives in Christ, we will be reunited with God when death comes.

24. "I Know That My Redeemer Lives"

A song that tells us Jesus is alive, and He has redeemed us by his death.

25. "I Will Choose Christ"

A song inspiring us to recommit ourselves to Christ each and every day.

26. "In Every Age"

A reminder of the timelessness of God- He has always been there, and He will always be there for us.

27. "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today"

An Easter song which joyfully celebrates the Resurrection and the defeat of death.

28. "Lead Me Lord"


A reminder that if we seek God, He will lead us.

29. "Let There Be Peace On Earth"

Always a song that inspires us to act for justice and peace among all people.

30. "Like a Shepherd"

A reminder that God cares for us as his own because we are his own.

31. "Litany of Saints"

A beautiful song, often sang on Easter, in which we ask the Saints to intercede for us.

32. "Lord of All Hopefulness"

A prayer asking God for the strength to get through the day.

33. "Loving and Forgiving"

A reminder that God is always wanting to forgive us of our wrongdoing and heal our pain.

34. "Only a Shadow"

A reminder that we have seen just a glimpse of the love God has for us, and there is much more in store for us.

35. "On Eagle's Wings"

One of the saddest, yet happiest songs of all time- although we die, we will be raised up and be with Him forever.

36. "Our God is Here"

A reminder of the true presence of God in all things.

37. "Prayer of St. Francis"

A beautiful song that makes the prayer feel even more powerful.

38. "Rain Down"

A reminder of the endless love of God.

39. "Roll Away the Stone"

My favorite Easter song of all time. HE IS RISEN!

40. "Shepherd Me O God"

A popular song serving as a reminder to put our wants aside and follow God's will.

41. "Sing to the Mountains"

A song of thanksgiving to God for the abounding gifts he has bestowed on us.

42. "The Summons"

A great song for those who are discerning their calling.

43. "Ubi Caritas"

A song all about the love of Christ.

44. "Unless a Grain of Wheat"

A reminder that without God we have no life.

44. "We Are Called"

A call to service and justice.

45. "We Are Many Parts"

A reminder that although we are many people, we are all part of the Body of Christ, and we all need to work toward peace together.

46. "You Alone"

A reminder of how although we are undeserving, God still loves us and should be praised.

47. "You Are Mine"

God has called us each by name- He knows YOUR name, and you belong to Him.

48. "Your Grace Is Enough"

A necessary reminder that God IS more than enough for us! We don't need to be consumed with this world because we have HIM, and an eternity of happiness awaits.


Singing, although I am terrible at it, has really improved my prayer life. It could do the same for you!

Cover Image Credit: Allie Daniel

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Church Has Taught Me The Importance Of Serving Others

Church is a place of joy, acceptance, and security.

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I had the privilege to be able to be raised in church from a young age. I was able to see my parents doing mission trips, volunteering, and attend Sunday services and Sunday School with my parents and siblings from when I was in elementary school. In college now, I still go to church on my own and I love it. I have been able to learn so many things from church, not even all in a spiritual context, and I would like to share those things because I think there is so much that people can learn from church even if they do not necessarily believe in everything taught.

The first thing I have learned in church is how important it is to serve and volunteer. I have also learned and been surprised at how much joy it can bring. It is so important to find your gifts and talents, and the things that you are passionate about. You can learn that from serving in church because there will usually always be something that you are more inclined to, such as children, hospitality, cooking, tech, etc. There are also many ways that you can bring your gifts into serving, such as sports, knowledge of other languages, singing, etc. Using these gifts, strengths, and passions to serve others can make you come alive in so many ways. Serving and volunteering brings so much joy and is so good for growth. A mindset of serving others and having humility is so good for everyone and this is great to be learned in church because church brings so many opportunities for serving.

Another thing that I have learned in church is the beauty of community. All of the churches I have attended have stressed community a lot. By this, I mean being in relationship and interaction with other people and doing life with them in all different ways. Many churches emphasize bible studies a lot. I believe that bible studies can be so growing as well because it gives an opportunity for deep fellowship and vulnerability and growth with other people and this is so good for everyone. It is extremely important to have community in your life that you can turn to, talk to, walk with, and trust in. Having a good community is especially important. The church has given me such incredible friendships that have done things for me that I never imagined anyone ever would. It is such a blessing to be able to have and now because of church I value good friendships and good people so much.

I do believe that church can be looked down on by many people because some people have had bad experiences with it. May I reassure you that that is not every church and from my experience, not very many churches actually. Church is a place of joy, acceptance, and security. And I believe that if you allow it, it can teach you so much and grow you into an even better person.

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