The Christian Vine
My sculptures don’t often illustrate a historical event as this one does:
Elias Chacour, now Archbishop of Galilee, is an Arab Palestinian who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize three times for his peacemaking efforts. He tells a moving story about when he was the young priest of a struggling church in a small Israeli town called Ibillin:
One day the congregation leader came storming up to him and demanded he follow him. He led Chacour behind the church and pointed at a small vine. “What is this?”, he demanded.
“This is a grapevine. It was given to me by the next door neighbor as a gift. Lovely isn't it?”
“He is a Muslim! It's a Muslim vine and I demand that you get rid of it!”
“Let’s see what we can do,” said the priest, “Bring me a bucket of water.”
The man did so, assuming that Chacour would use it to loosen the hard soil to dig it up. Instead he poured water gently over the vine, saying “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. There", he said turning to the man, "now it is a Christian vine!”
Chacour used an instantaneous creative response to the vexing problem of intolerance that has gained traction around the world in our time. Yet this tense challenge that was presented to the young priest is no different than any that you and I encounter daily. Now how are we going to live?