An Orchard of Peace
"So great is peace that G-d's Name is Peace .... So great is peace for all blessings are to be found in it."
In her Forward to the book, The Tent of Abraham: Stories of Hope and Peace for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, Karen Armstrong reminds us that “the kind of confusion, fear, and dismay that so many of us are experiencing [today] can be the start of a new religious quest”1 ... a quest that reveals (we can hope) that all of us [Jews, Christians, Muslims] are on a common spiritual journey … to discover, and experience, an All-Loving, All-Embracing God: present, active, involved … in the world today, in our families and communities, in our personal relationships with one another, and in our struggle to ‘become human’.
As people of God – people desiring to know and live God’s will in their lives – our challenge in life, in creating lives that reflect compassion and love for one another, begins with recognizing our common humanity. Not the broken humanity that focuses on differences, and conflict. But the healing humanity that seeks understanding, tolerance, and acceptance: exploring, among all people, our universal bond to God.
The divisions that divide Muslim from Christian, Christian from Jew, and Jew from Muslim, are not created by God – they are born from the beliefs and prejudices, imaginations and misunderstandings, that men and women have produced, and reinforced ….over centuries of conflict, hardship, and struggle: opinions that run deep within our veins. Strong beliefs ….. that often leave damaging, painful scars.
And yet, our personal choices – everyday, man-made (woman-made) human decisions – are rarely forced upon us. The paths that we choose to follow, and the values that we culture within our hearts, usually develop freely, democratically: ours to decide, ours to embrace, ours to promote. We choose (or rather can choose) to turn our lives toward peace, understanding, tolerance, and outreach. Or, we can build walls and fences that drive ourselves toward solitude, insecurity, fear, and darkness. It is our choice. And the consequences are our responsibility. Light or Darkness. Understanding or Intolerance.
Experience tells us that coarse feelings and bitter attitudes are not easily purged; the process of renewal – “rebirth” – requires time, and healing. But, over time, in time – with committed effort and sincere devotion – the pains of the past can die with the past ….. yielding (with God’s blessing) a New Beginning. A Restored Life …..that breaths and inhales a purified love ….shaping, and producing, a better – a more forgiving, more understanding – future.
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