Showing posts from January, 2012

New Narrative - Sharing Stories

One of the things I love the most about my family is the way in which we share stories. Jennifer, Rory, Sheri, my mother and I can sit around for hours telling the same old stories over again and again.
Story telling is how we honor the legacies of those who have gone before us. Story telling is how we learn more about our heritage.
Story telling is how we discover who we are.

I often hear people say that they are afraid to talk to much about their past or their family's history because they are afraid it will color the present or the future too much. There is a fear that somehow sharing these stories will inflict or infect our children and give them all of the wrong ideas. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
We must have the courage to tell the stories...
These stories can help inform us about our past. These stories can help us figure out our own identity.
These stories can serve as cautionary tales of paths to avoid along the way. These stories can serve as encourag…

Day Nine - Toward Understanding

This was my last day in Israel and Palestine. As I sit in the airport my mind is whirring with thoughts of this incredible adventure. I cannot believe that it is already over. I have seen and experienced so much. It is going to take a long time to process and then integrate this experience into the plans for the program and, more importantly, into my life. It has been a true journey toward understanding.
Today started with a trip to the top of what is called the Temple Mount. This is the place where tradition holds that Abraham prepared to offer his only son, Isaac, to the Lord; this is the location of both Solomon's and Herod's temples; the people of Israel believed that it was this mount upon which the presence of the Lord dwelt in the Holy of Holies; this is the spot where we are told Jesus drove out the money changers; this where Muslims believe that Mohammad and his horse, Al Buraq, were taken into heaven. Many pilgrims from many faiths have journeyed to this very spot. …

Day Eight - Hearing Voices of Living Stones

Today was yet another heavy day. 
We started our day talking about our vision and potential for this interfaith college program. The responses we continue to get from locals, tour guides, bus drivers and organization leaders is a smile, an acknowledgement of the difficulty of doing something like this and a conversation full of guarded hope and encouragement to press on. We have a long way to go. 
We then went to Arab Educational Institute in Bethlehem. This is an organization located in the shadow of the wall (see below) that is committed to being agents of change through the power of story. They give women and youth the opportunity to sit together and talk about their faith distinctives and difficulties through conversation, music and art. It is quite beautiful. The art you see on the wall below was a Christmas project they recently created. They also have developed a strategy for sharing such stories. They call it RRCA. They Read passages from holy books together. They Reflect upon w…

Day Six & Seven - Nazareth, Bet She'an, Bethlehem and Hebron

For the last two days we have had spotty internet connections. It is really funny what we take for granted. Over the last week, a reliable internet connection is one of those things upon which I became all too reliant. As a result, this post will be about two days.   
On Monday, our travels began with a visit to the Nazareth Academic Institute. This is a one of a kind school located in the town of Nazareth. This school has been open since 2008 and is committed to providing Palestinian Muslims and Christians and Israeli Jews the opportunity to gain a university education together. The mission, vision and commitment of the school and the students are quite unusual in this country. Almost all schools would not welcome nor allow Israelis and Palestinians young people to study together. We had the opportunity to meet with the president, staff, professors and students of the institute. Their story is quite inspiring and hopeful. Dr. George Kanazi, the president, said that their work is hard,…

Day Five - Wade in the Water

Another full day! 
This is a wonderful land with incredibly wonderful people. From Jerusalem to Nazareth to Tiberias to the Golan Heights to Capernaum, I have met individuals who I will never forget, and whose impact on my life cannot be measured. I am deeply grateful and cannot imagine what the next few days might have in store for me. 
A couple of today's adventures... We got to see this incredible first century fishing found buried in the mud along the Sea of Galilee. Upon seeing the vessel, it was not a stretch to imagine Peter, Andrew, James and John fishing from such a sail boat or to see Jesus sleeping in its bow during a pop up storm on the Sea of Galilee (like the one outside my window right now). It truly was a wonder to behold. 
We ate this magnificent lunch on top of the Golan Heights at this tiny restaraunt owned and operated by a Druze family (look up the Druze faith. I wasn't familiar with it either). We had amazing falafel, delicious fried pita chips and homemade c…

Day Four - Of Judges, Kings, Prophets, Disciples and Jesus

Wow! Today was a whirlwind. We saw and experienced so much. I am not sure I can recount all of the locations, let alone tell about each one. 
Here is what I remember...  We traveled to Caesarea (built by Herod the Great), the Caesarea aqueducts, Megiddo, Nazareth, Mt. Precipice and Galilee.  We saw the Jezreel Valley, Mt. Carmel, Mt. Tabor, Solomon's stables, the water tunnel at Megiddo, the Church of the Annunciation (built above Mary's house), and the Sea of Galilee at night. 
These are the lands of epoch battles and biblical events.  The feet of King Solomon, Deborah, Gideon, Elijah and Jesus once walked these mountains, hills, valleys and seashores. Many of the forerunners of faith prayed, prophesied, fought, taught, fished, performed miracles, lived and died right here. 
Caesarea aqueducts Nazareth on the hill Sunset over Mt. Carmel Moon over Mt. Tabor
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received a…

Day Three - Evening Prayers, Shabbat and Christmas Eve

Today was another full day. We got to experience several key locations in the Old City. We walked along the Via Dolorosa, went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, prayed at the Western Wall, saw the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock, and visited the Garden Tomb.  Mosaic of the Old City Prayers of the People - the Western Wall Candles lit by pilgrims at the tomb Dome above tomb Golgotha Chapel of Flagellation
In the late afternoon as we departed the Western Wall and Temple Mount Jewish families were heading toward the wall to pray as the setting sun marked the beginning of their Sabbath. Simultaneously, the Call to Prayer was sounding all across the city beconning all Muslims to prepare for their evening prayers. Above our heads hung twinkling Christmas lights reminding all of the Orthodox Christians that today is the eve of the birth of the Christ Child. All the while, the marketplace continued to buzz with foot traffic and shop owners pleading the people to come into their stores. 

There wa…

Day Two - Full Day in Israel and Palestine

Today was an incredibly challenging day. 
There are many reasons why this was true. Many of them I have yet to unpack and may be unpacking for years to come. Actually, I am quite certain that it will take years - quite possibly a lifetime. 
Today, we met with a leader of a local NGO that is working against house demolition throughout Israel and Palestine, a rabbi who works with a group of concerned rabbis for the ethical treatment of all in this region, a Jew from New York who lives in a settlement near Bethlehem, and a Palestinian Muslim who's home of over 50 years had been taken from him and his family then given to a Jewish family. 
It was a heavy day to say the least. So much was said, and I am only now beginning to hear it all. 
We have been given so much already on this trip. And now I am starting to sense that much is to be expected of us as well. So it should be.
Two quick anecdotes to tell a little about the day - First, Nabeel Al-Kurd, the Palestinian Muslim who graciously wel…

Day One - Arrival

We arrived safely in Israel. The flights were great and uneventful (I even got some much needed sleep on the way). Upon arrival we drove to Jerusalem. The conversation in the car was stimulating and the scenery outside the car was a wonder. The most notable part of the scenery was the wall - THE Wall. This is the wall of division, the wall of strife, the wall of dissension. The division is ever present and evident, and I have only been here for less than a day. 
Tave and I went for a quick walk through the Damascus Gate and into the Old City. The market was beautiful and lively. The sites, sounds and smells were even more overwhelming than I had imagined. The people are ncredibly friendly and are interested in what it is that we are doing here. This is serving as even more confirmation that we may be on to something. 
One question has been continuously bouncing about in my already overwhelmed mind. Who are the perveyers of this fear, this animosity, this hatred that dwells along the rel…

On the Brink - The Day Before Israel

I stand on the brink of something... Of what I am not completely sure.  I know that in one way or another it will be transformative.  I know that I am supposed to go. I know that the One who calls me to go has already gone before me and has prepared the way.  I stand on the brink of something... Of what I am not completely sure.  But I go.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 (NRSV)