Sunday, December 03, 2006

Road to Damascus

Joan Chittister, OSB writes a regular column for National Catholic Reporter with the title: Where I Stand. Her most recent effort carries the headline "Road to Damascus still a place for conversions."
The movie "Everest," now showing at the local IMAX theater, sent chills down my spine. There, in the middle of the Himalayas, a group of climbers found themselves blocked on their way to the summit by a fracture in the snow 90 feet deep. The crevasse was too wide to jump, but at the same time too narrow to simply accept as the end of their 30,000-foot attempt to conquer the highest mountain in the world. So they opened up a telescoped pole ladder, laid it across the icy ravine and in large, clunky, steel-clawed boots walked across the open spaces between its rungs, toes on one rundle, heels on the other.

I know a metaphor when I see one. I felt like I had just been part of a similar climb myself, sure of the need to go on, not sure that the passage was safe.

In Lebanon the week before, spiritual leaders from every side of the religious crevasse -- Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and Orthodox -- met in the first-ever Middle East-Asian Spiritual Dialogue to discuss the role of religion and the road to peace. They were sheikhs and monks and archbishops and patriarchs and judges and theologians.

They were leaders of religious groups who had long been at odds with one another. And they were now trying to take the first steps across the historical fissures that were keeping them from uniting a globe where borders were fast disappearing, where cultures were all becoming polyglot, where no one was safe from having to deal with the others any more.

No doubt about it: This was not one more routine academic convention.

You can read more here.