January 15, 2017.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute faith sharing on Sunday, January 15, 2017 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm at St. Paul Church in Cambridge, in the small chapel located in the Parish Center. Please join us in person or in spirit as we encourage Inter-faith relations and pray together for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land.

The Christian Christmas Season came to a close with two major Feast Days known as the Epiphany and the Baptism of Our Lord. In both we are invited to experience the manifestation, or recognition of God With Us in our world and to be open to the ways that God is at work in our every day lives. The biblical scene of Jesus coming to John the Baptist and submitting to the ritual cleansing, or baptism, is a powerful reminder of who Jesus is for Baptized Christians and begins his public ministry.

This week-end we honor an exceptional American and inspirational leader and preacher in the struggle for human rights, peace and justice in our nation. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous speech on the Mall in Washington DC in 1963 is known as the "I Have a Dream" speech. Not only are his words as valid and necessary today as they were in 1963 but for those of us gathered today in solidarity as Muslim and Christian friends they are particularly relevant. Here are a few excerpts:

"I say to you today, my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this Nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: That We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'.... I have a dream today ... I have a dream that one day 'Every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low; The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked Places will be made straight, And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.' This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will he able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will he free one day.... When we allow freedom to ring-when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last, Free at last, Great God Almighty, We are free at last.'"
(I Have a Dream Speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King,Jr. at the "March on Washington" Copyright 1963, Martin Luther King,Jr.)

On January 1st we lost a friend and mentor for many of us who have embraced the legacy of Louis Massignon. Professor Herbert Mason was one of the few remaining alive who knew Louis Massignon personally. They met in Paris when Dr. Mason was a young 27year old and Massignon was 76. The friendship had a lasting effect on Dr. Mason and led to his 14 year work on the 3 volume English translation of Massignon's 50 year major research on the life and legacy of the Sufi Muslim saint, poet and mystical Friend of God known as al-Hallaj. In tribute to Professor Mason and his many years of devotion to the legacy of Louis Massignon and of having inspired so many of his own students, I am quoting one of his poems for our reflection and as a way of remembering a dear friend and colleague.


I heard a voice:
From ancient jaws
The sound of loss
The sound of pain
Too long possessed,
A brother's voice
Heard from afar

The sound of waves
Against this shore;
the weakened voice,
a silence here.
When no sound comes
More terrible the hush
And silence than the loss.

(From Disappearances; Poems by Herbert Mason KNP Publications, London & New York 1999. P. 19)

Peace to you in the New Year,

To see the entire I Have a Dream Speech go to: archives.gov/files/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf

(See www.dcbuck.com for all past letters to the Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute)