THE TREASURE OF A FEATHER
Hidden in the confines of the LU Shepherd’s Office down a locked corridor lies an office like no other. The room is filled with a welcoming a gentle ambience. Smells of herbal teas linger from past visits. Elegant light blue and green furniture decorate the room set up for deep conversations over tea and chocolate.
The one responsible for the welcoming atmosphere is Nastinka Morgan. About five feet five inches, she greets her guests with a motherly embrace and an urgency to begin her hospitable treatment. Her smile is the most genuine you will ever see. As she looks at you, wrinkles like rays from the sun appear on the outer corners of her eyes.
Every day differs for Morgan. She anticipates the twists that life brings. Mostly, she anticipates taking care of her 230 missionary kids on campus. She sees more than six of them each day. Most visits consist of walk-ins that anyone but Morgan would feel inconvenienced by.
“I am Iranian and I do time differently, so I have appointments, but I see way more people than I have appointments (for),” Morgan said. “People stop by and I will drop everything. When someone is at my door, it can all stop. I literally don’t even go to meetings sometimes because I have a student that’s just stopped by. They just take precedence.”
As Morgan sits down with her guest, her smile remains. Her almond complexion glows in the sun and her chocolate brown eyes reflect with the joys and sorrows of this life.
Her receptive heart sets a safe platform for her guests to speak their thoughts.
The joys she has in the present do not seem possible when compared to her past, but she has made them so.
Morgan was born in Iran. She says her childhood was like living a “Cinderella dream”. They had balls, poetry that was read all the time, gardens, food and unforgettable vacations.
She was surrounded by people whom she loved.
“I was just a child so I wasn’t exactly allowed to go to the great galas. I especially loved watching my mom get ready,” Morgan said.
Her sweet memories of her and mother refrain from escaping her memory as her life begins to fluctuate in seasons of loss. Beginning with the loss of her dear home – Iran.
Before fleeing Iran, Morgan’s family was on vacation at the Caspian Sea. At the end of their stay, Morgan was told to not go in the water. While the adults were gone, she begged Nane, who was like her grandmother, to take her cousins and her one last time to the sea. So, in secret, Nane took all the kids to the sea. Only this time the waves were much stronger than they had been before.
As Morgan got into the water, a wave crashed over her, getting sand all over her and even inside her eyes. She cleaned up as best as she could, but her parents got home before she could fully clean up. She went to bed that night with discomfort in her eye and never told her parents in order to protect her Nane and herself.
To this day Morgan has a brown speck on the inside of her left eye near her tear duct. Though she will never again experience the smells, sounds, or tastes of Iran or the Caspian Sea, she believes that she has a piece of Iran forever in her.
Morgan would later lose her mother and the man she married would forsake her.
“I live with a constant desire for vindication,” Morgan said.
Many students on Liberty University’s campus do not know Nastinka Morgan, but those who do, certainly have a story about her.
Liberty student, Charis Gnanakan met Morgan after she had broken her foot playing soccer. Morgan was driving by one day and saw Gnanaka walking with crutches from Green Hall to the Hill. Morgan, a complete stranger to Gnanakan, stopped her car and insisted she get in. Gnanakan cautiously got in and began to relax as she got to witness Morgan’s precious spirit. For the weeks that followed, until Gnanakan was healed, Morgan would wait for Gnanakan each morning so that she could drive her to her class at Green Hall.
Morgan’s eyes fill with tears when she talks about Iran. When anyone she knows travels to Iran, they always ask if they could bring her anything from there. Her response is to ask them to bring her a single feather from a bird.
“The one place in the world I most want to be, I can never be,” Morgan said. “And I don’t know that I could put into words or describe the need for that feather. It’s my bird, flown over my land. It’s been under my sun. It’s free. It sees the pain of my people. It hears the laughter of the children and flies through the smell of their fields. It’s tasted the rain drops. It’s flown where I can’t.”
Each tear that streams down her face runs over the speck of Iranian sand in Morgan’s chocolate brown eye.