The Obama administration held talks today to jump-start stalled Middle East peace discussions, its first high-level meetings with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in months. With progress seemingly stalled yet again , my mind went back to my time in Israel this past December. Talking with people on both sides of the on-going conflict was eye-opening and mind-boggling. After much study, I am convinced that on-going prayer by all those who care deeply about the conflict is the one thing that can truly make a difference.
Praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem can be a sacred and powerful experience. Separated from the men, women pray in silence or weep, some clutching their Torah, some with both hands on the wall. I joined them. Slipping my carefully written prayer into a crevice, I placed my hands on the wall beside theirs. Through a partition I heard the Jewish men chanting, praying, their voices rising to God as some swayed back and forth, back and forth. The enforced separation of the sexes was uncomfortable to me, but I stayed. And I prayed.
Over the din of raised voices I heard another prayer magnified by a speaker, the Muslim call to prayer. Another kind of chanting mingling with the chants of my Jewish brothers next door. A cacophony of voices all praising the same God, all praying, beseeching, asking for . . . what?
In a few moments I heard a sound that was more familiar to me, the welcome echo of church bells resounding through the air, pealing sounds of joy and praise and new life. The sounds know no borders, no boundaries, no walls. They soared above them all, dancing together in praise of their Creator.
Listen, to what these co-mingled sounds of praise and glory are saying to all children of Abraham and to everyone who cares about peace in our world today. Listen . . .