Like the rest of the world, I remember the sickening feeling of learning, on Oct. 7, 2023, that Hamas militants had attacked Israel. As the horrific details of killings, rapes and abductions of everyday Israelis filled our screens, a second dread gripped my heart: Israel’s response would be swift and unapologetic. And so it was. The full force of the Israel Defense Forces soon rained down, their bombs smashing into Gaza and claiming thousands of Palestinian lives, creating a catastrophic humanitarian crisis for survivors. Any hope for peace in the trouble region seemed instantly obliterated.
About a week into the conflict, I Zoomed into a conference hosted by Evolving Faith, an organization serving over 12,000 religious seekers, doubters and “disappointed disciples.” Broadview was an event sponsor, and Evolving Faith co-founder Sarah Bessey wrote this month’s insightful cover story in Broadview Magazine, “Easter Moments,” so I had a professional interest. But I was also looking for solace, for me and for our hurting world.
Bessey, a Calgary-based author of multiple bestselling books on faith, was among the first speakers. She took the stage at the Minneapolis Convention Center, admitting that given the Hamas-Israel war and other crises, sometimes “hope and love feel like not enough.…It feels futile to hold on to hope when what we need is policy, and what we need is justice, and what we need is meaningful action. And so who would talk about love and hope at a time like this?”
More on Broadview:
- A new book by Palestinian and Jewish community leaders encourages meaningful dialogue on Israel-Palestine
- Jewish-led vigil in Toronto mourns death in both Israel and Gaza while calling for ceasefire
- 3 faith leader on why the Palestine-Israel conflict is not a religious one
An October tweet (sorry, an X) from Rev. Rob Fennell, United Church minister and theology professor, perfectly articulated what was in my heart at the time: “Death and retribution will only bring more death and retribution. Alas, alas, alas. God have mercy on your Holy Land.”
Is hope at this time beyond our grasp? For Bessey, hope is deeply intertwined with imagination. She says a lack of imagination tells us “this is how it is, this is how it’s always been, this is how it always will be. It sounds a lot like despair, that there is no possibility for healing.” Anyone could be forgiven for believing the Middle East conflict will never end, for despairing that the region will never heal, especially now.
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Imagination, on the other hand, is “one of the miracles that are still available to us,” Bessey argues. And what are we to imagine? That we “can see the image of God in one another across aisles and streets and political divides and borders, and in the ones that we have been taught to fear and resent.” We’re heading into one of the holiest times of the year for Christians, Muslims and Jews alike. Lent begins in mid-February, leading to Easter at the end of March. Ramadan straddles March and April. Passover is at the end of April. As we mark the annual events of the three great Abrahamic religions, I urge us to keep calling and praying for an end to this unholy war in a Holy Land — and allow ourselves to imagine that love, hope and peace might still prevail.
Jocelyn Bell is the editor and publisher of Broadview Magazine.
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