For Baghdad, for Beiruit, for Paris


On the day of the 9/11 attacks, I was in Paris. At just about the time of the 9/11 attacks I was in the Louvre, looking at this icon. I had specifically flown there to see it on a very short overnight stay in the first madness of cheap Ryanair flights when you could just decide you were going to Paris to see an icon.

The icon iteself is fairly well known. They use it in Taize and it is often called “The icon of friendship”, the narrative being that Jesus has his arm around a fellow traveller who walks the road beside him. It is in fact St Mina whom Jesus has his arm around and I like to remember him by name as he is a patron of those who travel. The icon comes from the middle east (from Egypt) and in modern times is one of those things which unites Eastern and Western eyes.

Remembering standing in front of it in Paris and later learning of the 9/11 attacks, it seems an appropriate thing to post today after a day of terror in Beirut, Baghdad and Paris.

I’ve seen several grumpy posts on twitter going on about the wave of “meaningless” religious posts that we will see online. People angry at what they see as empty gestures.

The desire to hold a place or a people or a person or a situation in one’s heart seems to me to be a more human thing than a religious thing – it is in fact what unites us rather than something that divides us.

And yes, on one level the posts may seem banal to some. But holding someone’s hand or putting an arm around a shoulder could be seen as banal and meaningless too. Yet it is all we can do sometimes and what we need to do.

Today I’m thinking of that icon in that city and the other cities which suffered yesterday which are not at the forefront of our minds because somewhere inside we believe sudden violence is more normal there. I’m thinking of the hands held, the shoulders embraced. The weeping, the grieving and the dying.

The people of Paris have the right to peace. So do the people of Beirut and Baghdad. But that is perhaps for another day. Today the arm around the shoulder; the affirmation that we walk this world together.

Politics later.

Eternal God
For Paris, for Beirut, for Baghdad.
For the grieving, for the dead and for the wounded.
For a world united.


  1. Christopher L. Gaston says

    Art and Philosphy. Us and Them.
    What ties us all together?

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