Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kayla Mueller, “Presente!”

We learned this week of the death of American hostage Kayla Mueller who had been in Syria doing humanitarian relief work when she was kidnapped back in 2013.

In an article from Reuters News Service we read:
Mueller went to Turkey in December 2012 to work for a Turkish organization providing humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees along the border with Syria. She previously volunteered for schools and aid groups abroad including in the West Bank, Israel and India.
Mueller's family quoted from another letter she sent her father on his birthday in 2011: "I will always seek God. Some people find God in church. Some people find God in nature.
Some people find God in love; I find God in suffering. I've known for some time what my life's work is, using my hands as tools to relieve suffering."


The public was not aware of Kayla Mueller until her death due to the family’s wishes that her being taken hostage not be discussed in the news. After hearing of her life and her dedication to helping those in need, one senses the tragic loss even as her bright life is recounted. We naturally want to celebrate that short life and the good that she lived for. We can hope that her spirit of life and her example of giving will continue as a beacon in a world of terrible and needless violence.

Several years ago I heard about a Latin American custom of shouting “Presente” during the All Saints’ Day service (November 1) when the names of those who have died during the past year are read. With each name, the congregation shouts, “Presente!” signifying that though they have died, they are still “present” in the company of the faithful. 

In honor of all the good that humanity can offer, and in remembrance of her life, we affirm: Kayla Mueller, Presente! 

Kayla Mueller, family photo, from ABC News



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