Sunday, June 8, 2014


  Prayers for peace were offered today by Pope Francis, Shimon Peres, and Mahmoud Abbas in the Vatican Gardens. Whether you are ecumenically minded or not, religious or skeptic, there were several themes that would be, I think, immediately recognizable to most people. The sadness of being human, and the universality of that sadness. The kind of weariness that resists all "righteous indignation" humans are capable of--all the reasons people go to war, just or unjust.  The history of this conflict has its roots in the indisputable right of each party to its own identity and continued existence.  Israel happened in part because even during Naziism no country would let the tens of thousands of Jews fleeing Europe in. The Palestinian cause happened because people found themselves in  being dispossessed, politically and culturally, by an influx of westerners.
     All suffering involves one thing--waiting. The prayers offered today are the appeals one makes to God during times of suffering and war.  Whether you are religious or not, there might be an occasion when you were so much pain you were beside yourself, and you cried out, maybe just in your mind, maybe without words, to a God you didn't believe in. Years ago there was a serial killer in the southwest who kidnapped young women and murdered them, hiding their bodies in the desert.  He did this to  7 women before he go to the eighth. #8  found herself assaulted and locked in the trunk of a car in the middle of the night, being driven, she realized, to a far away place where she was going to be killed and her body disposed of. She had never prayed, she wasn't religious, and didn't believe in God. In her desperation she said "God, I never believed in you, but if you're there, save me!" Over and over she begged, she pleaded, she cried, to a God she didn't believe in,locked in the trunk of her murderer's car, as she kicked at the door with all the strength she had left. And in the middle of her screams to God the trunk flew open, and she pulled herself out of the moving car falling onto the highway where she staggered half-naked to safety. She thinks that God answered her prayer.
     We don't all pray or believe in God, but we all wait, because there isn't much choice. When you are suffering, you wait. Because it isn't up to you anymore--you have lost control. If you wait long enough sometimes you beg, and sometimes when you beg, you get an answer. That is one thing all humans share.

     The service for peace had beautiful music, all instrumental, played by musicians from all three faiths. The first piece they performed is one I recommend. It is classical, but even if you don't like classical music, you will like it. It's one of the loveliest piece written in the 20th Century. If you take the time to listen to it, it will speak to you without words.

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