Oh, Peace.

Partridges, 1

It has been a season.  I teach my students to look for pivotal moments in their reading, and I, also,  recognize pivotal times in life when I see them.  So many things have been up in the air.  We thought it might be time to pull ourselves away from our beloved Tunisia this year,  and the exploration of that possibility took us through many soul-searching doors we hadn’t anticipated passing through.  We are still in a state of wonder at the experience.  Doors were slammed shut so resoundingly that our ears are still ringing.  The universe spoke:  We are meant to be here.Winter Berries  And we have so very, very much to be grateful for.  Many of our loved ones are experiencing  sickness, pain, and loss.  We are not.  Hallelujah.  At the moment, we’re OK!

My heart, this advent, is fully with our adopted country.  It has been our profound privilege to work and live inside Tunisia, these past six years, through their democratic transition.  The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize  comes at a time when they are wondering what it has all been for.  Recent violence from their own radicalized sons has been demoralizing,  adding layer upon layer of isolation from the world, increased poverty, and deferment of their vision of a peaceful life with opportunities for their young people.  The Nobel committee honored the seemingly simple, yet most complicated way that the Tunisia National Dialogue Quartet worked to bring Tunisia back from the brink of civil war in 2013.  They kept dialogue going between all constituents.  They convinced parties to set aside their individual agendas.  They held up core values as more important than ideologies.  They took turns at leadership as they were needed.   What a model for the world of how to make cooperation a priority in order to accomplish something more positive, for the greater good.  I am so happy and proud of them.

This performance at the Nobel ceremony stole my breath, and I have watched it at least 20 times.  The passion, delicacy, defiance, and skill of Emel Mathlouthi’s performance represents the complicated spirit of Tunisia.  I  have gained hope from this award, and I pray it might be the external moral support Tunisia needs to carry through.

 “…Peace was really loud, and I was so thrilled to be a part that made it louder!!”

Emel Mathlouthi in a letter sent to the Nobel committee.

“Kelmti Horra” (My Word is Free) English/French translations

Wild Thyme Leg of Lamb

Tunisian FlagToday is Tunisia’s celebration of gaining their independence from French colonization in 1956.  The almost 60 years since then have been an ongoing  process of self-identification, but that is really no different from any other nation.

With the shocking terrorist attack at the Bardo museum this week, the mood in the city is quiet and pensive.  I wonder how liberated Tunisians are feeling today.

People are staying close to home and family or are outdoors seeking healing from the vernal countryside.  Woody wild thyme branches can be found sprawling on wind swept knolls.  Used in a rub for lamb, it is just the flavor to capture the untamed, emerging spring.

Thyme

Leg of LambWild Thyme Leg of Lamb

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted, coarsely ground
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin, toasted
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
  • 3 lbs lamb, legs or shoulder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 liter lamb or chicken stock

Combine the cumin, coriander, garlic, thyme, zest, and salt.  Rub all over the lamb, then set aside at room temperature for 2 hours.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat the oil in a large roasting dish, over high heat, then brown the lamb all over.  Add the stock and cover with a tight fitting lid or foil.  Transfer to the oven for 2 hours.  Uncover and roast for a further 30 minutes or until tender, then set aside to rest before carving.

Pearson, Jo. “From the Source.” Cuisine NZ Mar. 2015: 98-99. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.