From the Sublime to the Ridiculous: About That Squirrel...and About Peace
I had a very low-key weekend, except for the part where a squirrel ran into my house and down the hall and under a bookcase. I threw things at the bookcase because I didn't want Squirrel to set up camp there. As I had hoped, the car keys and mini journal I hurled did the trick. Squirrel scurried down the hall and into the laundry room. This was a good move, from my standpoint. The laundry room is next to the garage, so I barricaded the hallway so that when Squirrel left the laundry room his only way of escape would be toward the garage with the BIG OPEN GARAGE DOOR. My most heroic move was when I perched on my haunches on top of the dryer and poked a broom (as noisily as possible) behind the dryer. I hoped this would encourage my new best friend to make another crazy run for it; thankfully it did. (Thankfully, I say, because I didn't have a plan B.) Anyway, Squirrel sprinted out the laundry room and down the hall, took the stairs to the garage three at a time, and skidded on his little behind right out the BIG OPEN GARAGE DOOR. Phew…
I gotta tell you, those little critters are kinda' scary up close.
Okay, that's the ridiculous part of this story. Here's the sublime part: I just spent three days in Washington DC with a gathering of Israeli and Palestinian friends who who are peacemakers. I met most of them in recent years during numerous trips I've taken to the Holy Land. They've become my heroes because of their tireless work for reconciliation and their unflagging commitment to dignity, freedom and security for all Israelis and Palestinians. I was grateful to be able to see so many of them together in DC.
But we could not ignore the violence spreading throughput their neighborhoods at home. Each conversation began with, "What have you heard from your family today? Are they okay?" My friends didn't have to remind me, because I already knew it was true: the violence in their homeland does not represent them.
Nor does it represent additional thousands of Jews, Muslims and Christians throughout the Holy Land who are showing up everyday to demonstrate for peace; who are volunteering at bilingual schools in order to strengthen relationships between Jews and Arabs; who are walking into neighborhoods where their peers are afraid to go, in order to stand in solidarity with friends on the other side; who are mourning together every single death that's creating one more bereaved family in the Holy Land; who are writing articles and blogs and FB posts that call for an end to all words of hatred and incitement; who find in the increasing violence a powerful affirmation of their commitment to nonviolence; who refuse to give up their dreams of peace, their dreams of two people and three faiths living as friends and neighbors in the land they call holy.
The weekend brought me nothing more frightening than a misguided squirrel. But for my Israeli and Palestinian friends, the weekend brought more gunfire and sirens and roadblocks and mourning and a new level of fear of what tomorrow will bring.
In coming days I'll send them notes and I'll cherish the words they send back. I'll follow their posts on FB and Twitter. I'll consider carefully how I can stand in closer solidarity with them in the future. I'll pray for their energy, their courage, their safety. I'll pray especially that everyday they will see some tiny glimmer of light--however faint--that will keep them dreaming, working and loving.
Lord, have mercy.