In the days following news of Hamas’ attack on Israel and then Israel’s response, I have found myself thinking about three Palestinian students I worked with years ago. Two brothers and a sister, they were all tender souls and as lovely as they come. These three were also deeply devoted to the ways of peace and to the possibility that Palestinians and Israelis could, one day, live side by side. Where are they now, I wondered. Are they and their families OK?
Then and now, Palestinians are a horribly misunderstood people. Thinking about my soulful, peace-loving, peace-striving students reminded me of the American poet Naomi Shihab Nye whose father was Palestinian. A friend of my mentor, Charles, I’ve always felt a special connection to Ms. Shihab Nye.
As we pray for those now affected by a fresh outbreak of violence in a land far too familiar with it, I share this poem. Naomi wrote it in 2014 when suspicions about Arabs were still high enough to have strangers withdraw in fear.
My hope is that this poem read slowly, savored, and contemplated, might in some way help us live into the words from this Sunday’s scripture: Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasant, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
With you on the journey,