In late October I will leave on a three month sabbatical. Twenty three years ago when I traveled to Israel on a pilgrimage, I had very little understanding for the depth of pain that resides in that "holy land." I remember the day we went to Yad Vashim - the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. Our Palestinian Christian guide asked to be let out of the tour bus at the gate which led up a hill to Yad Vashim. He would not go with us because he said that the Israelis made much of their Holocaust while creating a "Holocaust" for the Palestinians. Later at the Temple Mount I was forbidden from going onto this sacred ground because I was a woman. I had to ask a "man" to place my prayer into the Western Wall of the mount. I stood with tears in my eyes and thought about Paul's words, that Jesus had come to break down the dividing wall... But in so many ways that wall is higher than ever. It is now a physical wall dividing Jews from Palestinians in Jerusalem. There are many, many other walls - rich from poor, persons of color from anglos, gays and lesbians from straight, conservative from liberal... Where does it end? Can the division end? How do we find the ways to talk to each other, finding the common ground on which to build relationships instead of walls? I don't know the answers.
When I was in South Africa in 1998 at the end of the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission's" work, we had a chance to meet with some of the TRC members. One of the persons who had listened over and over to the stories of those who came forward remarked that "the telling of truth did not always lead to reconciliation." How do we keep from building walls which separate?
I hope this time away on Sabbatical will begin to answer some of these questions for me. I will write more about the actual "stuff"of the sabbatical later.