Each trip affords an opportunity to introduce more Americans to the people who inspire me, to those who live in the midst of conflict and yet, like my friend Daoud Nassar, refuse to be enemies. To those who pursue justice and devote themselves to creating flourishing societies that respect the dignity of all. So often the images of the Holy Land we have in our mind are of violence and hate, suffering and despair. And God knows that this land has seen its share of these things. But in the crucible of the modern conflict many have eschewed despair, resisted the desire to exact revenge, and imagined that a better world can be achieved through the dogged pursuit of justice, truth, and peace for all. So to return again and again, as wearying as it can be on my family and on me, is a way to offer encouragement of their work and affirmation of the difficult choices they have made for the sake of peace.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
I've just returned to Tel Aviv and processed through Ben Gurion International Airport. This visit will mark my eleventh trip to the Holy Land in the past eighteen months. Each journey to this place is a remarkable experience, an immersion into beautiful and ancient cultures, good food and warm hospitality, and encounters with authentic peacemakers. And yet these are blended often in equal measure with the weightiness of human depravity and fallenness, with real pain, suffering and fear, and with the lingering consequences of violence and injustice. And then there are the occasional moments of spiritual insight and communion with the God of history. But as N.T. Wright has said, there’s a sort of spiritual residue in these places, a lingering sense of the divine and miraculous here.