I am reading Karl-Josef Kuschel’s Abraham: Sign of Hope for Jews, Christians and Muslims. I do genuinely admire the scholarship of the book, and I like to think it has the potential to do a lot of good. It talks about an Abraham before creed, a figure who draws in Jews, Christians, and Muslims, even as the theology explaining his appeal pushes them apart from each other. I believe he would say that what these faiths need is pious reinterpretation, and that Abraham is a key figure to begin with because he is shared by all three as a “founder.”
However, thinking of “Signs of Hope” I also think of the beautiful trees, which my mom is so perceptive in pointing out to me. The fall leaves are cranberry red or pale peach as peaches or a yellow paler than lemons. Mom and I decided to eat at Panera, and then we went down to the park to read our books. I read from page 90+ to page 130, and hope to read past page 150 before 5:00 PM. As we sat in the cool winds it was very comfortable, and occasionally we said “hi” to people walking by. It was a beautiful day. It was a day which taught of the Hope which Nature contains. That is even though Winter nears… because Winter always gives way to Spring. About the Seasons Ecclesiastes 3 says,
To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh
A time to mourn, and a time to dance…
There is, though, a hope that only human beings have. It is a hope for a time when “swords will be beaten into ploughshares” and peace and plenty will reign on earth. It is the hope that God’s Kingdom will rule on earth. Our national anthem rings, “America, America, God shed his grace on thee,” and though I believe in American pluralism–the acceptance of all creeds–I insist that America without faith is a “white-washed tomb,” as Jesus is supposed to have said a Jew without faith is. (I hope it is not offensive for me to quote that idea; I really believe in God and Judaism, but I am a convert and it is hard for me to ignore the echoes of my past.) I believe that the fondest hope of humankind is for its God to rule the earth according to justice and righteousness.
Moreover, I think of an ex-alcoholic who taught me about forgiveness. I had troubles with my father when he was alive. I had a friend who was an ex-alcoholic who worked with mental patients the same as I did. He told me that, “To get well I had to forgive those who had hurt me.” I was not able to see it at the time, but in retrospect, I acknowledge how right he was. I believe it is a deeply selfish act for a person to carry a kind of torch of resentment to their grave, and I am afraid my dad did it himself. Yet I believe there is a freedom in forgiveness…
I admit that my forgiveness is not a perfect one. I wrote a book “Discovering Wonderland” about my father, to try to say about him what it was that I want him to say… and found that the story of Annie and Bertie (the two children in the book) needed continuing. I hope to write at least three more books. Yet by retelling the story in fictional form, I can finally say “Goodbye” to a man whom I feel hurt me but also believed he had been hurt by somebody else–his ex-wife, Renae, and her family. He took his angry and hurt feelings to his grave. Yet I must not do this. God would not approve. I must say goodbye to my father, perhaps even to the point of saying, “Dad, I forgive you.” That is something to Hope for.