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Personally, I feel that we can conquer "most" conflicts through the development of embodied relationships. By this, I mean that we get to know the other person in a fundamental way whereby we learn (through a great deal of grace & humility) to honor the dignity of the person or; as I would like to put it - we discover the soul beneath the surface.

I live in the midwest (Kansas) where there are very few opportunities to engage and befriend Jewish people even though I have developed an increasing interest in their faith tradition (I, myself am Roman Catholic). At a very simple level, I have decided to be pro-active about forming my own inter-religious dialogue with Judaism. I am doing this by learning Hebrew, reading anything I can get my hands on, and participating in some events at a Synagogue in Kansas City, MO. I don't have to go to Israel or hold a summit, or pray at the wailing wall - all I have to do is "actively" listen to their stories by putting aside my agenda and just being present or just "showing up".

In the film, Ghandi, I remember the scene where Ghandi tells a Hindu penitent (who is seeking forgiveness for killing a Muslim) that in order for the sin to be purged, Ghandi tells the Hindu to go and take care of the murdered man's children. It was a powerful lesson to learn and hints at the true "cost of discipleship" that Bonhoeffer spoke of.

In closing, I would like to offer a poem I wrote whilst thinking of all the "conflict" in the Middle East. The figure of Abraham as the father of both Judaism and Islam was the inspiration for this meditation of mine. You may print it if you like or just enjoy it.

Rick Folker, MASM
Kansas City, MO

Abram’s Broken Dream
Rick Folker

His withered hand sifts through the sand,
While he sleeps…

His only bed now,
These rough, coarse grains
For this lonely, haunted Abraham.

And yet he dreams…

“My descendants are like
stars that have fallen upon a land of
Broken promises and endless hates...
Two sons; two nations
Two faiths.”

And yet only one endless earthquake.

Something causes him to wake
some voices whispering and pleading;
"Remember Isaac, Remember the Knife?”
“No please - Remember your people, remember your wife.”

Lillith-like women laughing,
they torment him unceasingly…

“Go ahead and choose - choose death or choose life!”

In his sleeping, his waking -
The searing sun his only cover
All alone with his stars and his sands -
He waits …
He waits and hopes

And prays to wake

In the hot Arab sun Isaac and Ishmael from afar
Phantoms who vanish
reaching, fighting, arguing for their star.

“Why have you left us bereft of
your dream,
your wish of shalom
Sinking and stinking
Of broken promises

A father who will live through the ages
Whilst Arabs and Jews live through
The wars where broken hearts give birth to newly-found hatreds

Always sleeping and dreaming father
Whilst your sons must be leaving and longing and looking….

And waking