My journey began in a Basque fishing port on the Atlantic coast,
The home of fishermen, whalers, explorers, traders.
Tucked away between the green txakoli-covered fields and the sheep-spotted hills,
The autumn sunlight streams down on the blue sea.
This land has seen its battles,
Buildings still blush from the heat.
Yet today visitors from the kingdoms which attacked in the past
Come, enjoy, taking only photos and invading only the souvenir shops and fine restaurants.
A vision, a dream, carried me to another shore,
And I disembarked in the bustling life of Beirut,
Followed the coast, the mountains to my left and the salt breath of the Mediterranean in my hair,
To another port, an ancient city,
Tyre upon the sea.
With its spice-scented market, seashell purple dye, cypress trees sent to Solomon,
It is a port where kingdoms rose and fell.
Savouring tabouli and thick mango juice I can see as far as Israel.
And my heart can see as far as the day when Israelis would come across the border
Not to take or invade, not threatened with violence,
But they would come, enjoy, relish the good gifts of their neighbours.
My prayer, like the Prince of peace who walked into this city,
Is that one day those on both sides of the conflicts
Would sit down, have lunch, cry for their lost ones, find peace.
This dream may seem impossible to some, laughable to others.
Yet I believe there are people locally who will lead the way.
When we no longer look to war as the way,
When we let each other live,
When we learn to love,
We learn to give.
Photos & Words by Jonathan McCallum