I woke up Wednesday morning to so many WhatsApp messages from friends overseas, saying “What a relief!” “Finally!” and of course, many saying “Ya salaam!”
“Ya salaam” literally means, “Oh, peace!” Arabic speakers say it when something incredible, marvelous, or astonishing happens. Or when you’re waiting for something and it finally happens. There’s almost an implication in the expression that you didn’t believe something so wonderful could even be possible, so when it does happen… Ya salaam! You can find a little bit of peace in yourself.
And I will admit that these last two weeks have been so stressful. For two weeks, I’ve been hoping that when I watch the news that I won’t see more anger and unrest and hatred. It just hurts the soul.
I’ve been hoping that we can be kind and good to one another.
Then I watched National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman read her original work “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration of now US President Joe Biden. She didn’t just give me hope, but something beyond hope. Because this young woman, just a little younger than my own daughter spoke with such poise, such elegance, such wisdom, and foundation in her art and her values. Her words and her cadence were more than a poem; it was music and dance, too. Seeing her, I felt like I was seeing the future. A future of beauty, strength, and resilience. She and her art were a light in the dark, and a true feeling of what is possible in the world.
And when she finished, I said to myself… Ya salaam!