January 9, 2009
A reflection at the end of Day 2
Written Jan. 7, 2009
I walked the Via Dolorosa (road of sorrows) twice today. The first was a traditional walking tour in the Old City of Jerusalem. Our guide, Said, is a 3rd generation member of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Jerusalem. He was a powerful witness to the light of Christ as he led us on the road of sorrows — following the traditional path that Jesus might have followed as he stumbled his way through and beyond Jerusalem to Galgatha and crucifixion. It is a way of pain and suffering. We remembered his being taunted, beaten and whipped. But we know it also as the way of hope.
It is a physically demanding journey even today. The rough paving stones are hard on the feet. Much of it is an uphill climb — a test for legs more accustomed to sitting at desks and in cars. John Kapanke and the Board of Pensions will rejoice at the number of steps we took.
The second Via Dolorosa walk was not quite so strenuous. We were tired from a long day and still feeling the effects of jet lag, but the demands were on my emotional system.
Two men spoke to us. They told a heart-wrenching story of painful loss when a loved one's life was claimed by violence born of hatred. One told us about his 14-year-old daughter killed by a suicide bomber. The other described the day his father was shot. One is an Israeli Jew and the other a Palestinian forced from his home in childhood and still living in a refugee camp. They are members of a group called Parents Circle Family Forum.
They spoke eloquently and emotionally about the choices they have made to speak for peace in the Middle East. They could call each other enemies, oppressor and oppressed, but they choose to call each other brother.
They don't agree on everything, but they agree on the importance of creating a future based on their shared humanity instead of hatred. They are men of great courage. They appear together in schools and use their common pain to remind the world of our common humanity. Their goal is to create cracks of light and hope in the walls of hatred. They are transforming their own Via Dolorosa in to a way of hope by walking it together.