Guiding Future Leaders to Abraham's Path
People come to the path for many different reasons. Some come to hike. Some come to search for their roots and for others it is a pilgrimage. I feel that all these things are okay and the path can be different things for different people.
-- Participant, Abraham Path Initiative conference
Walking miles along the route once taken some 4,000 years ago is the key to one group’s effort to build a new culture of peace and understanding in the Middle East and around the world.
The Abraham Path Initiative (API) follows the footsteps of the patriarch Abraham, whose journey from Turkey to Israel marks the beginning of the ancient narrative, and the birth of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, faith traditions shared by more than half the people in the world today.
The Fetzer Institute partnered with API to conduct a workshop in Turkey aimed at educating and inspiring future leaders. In large part, exposure to the path and enough space to experience it are keys to growing love and forgiveness, organizers say. The 29 participants came from countries including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Palestine, the United States, and, the United Kingdom.
The conference activities included experiences of walking in Urfa and Harran, homestay in a village called Yuvacali, visits to heritage sites, and, time to discuss the story of Abraham through folklore, films, scriptures, essays and photographs contributed by the participants.
By retracing this journey, API provides economic benefits to local communities along the route and a place of meeting and connection for people of all faiths and cultures.
The organization came into being in an effort to build greater understanding, forgiveness and mutual connection among peoples and communities that have been misunderstood and misrepresented.
"When I walk as a guide on the path through the villages around my home, I forget that I am walking with visitors from another country. And it is not just the visitors that learn from me, I learn from them. The path has changed the way I look at everything."
-- API Participant
Survey results showed enthusiasm by participants, along with questions about the organization’s focus going forward and the balance between religious and secular material given API’s name.
"Walking is the time-tested engine of the mind,” wrote API Executive Director Stefan Szepesi in a recent blog post on Huffington Post. “When done alone it opens a unique thinking space; when experienced together, it brings out the conversations you would not have when sitting down facing each other as opposites."
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on the Education Professions.