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Pausing for a Moment with Mohammed al-Daini

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For the past two weeks, Mohammed al-Daini, a member of the Iraq Parliament, has been staying with me at my new place in Washington, DC. If you read the New York Times tomorrow, May 14, you'll learn why.

For each of the days he's been here, I've kept a log about our day's work to end the violence in Iraq. When I re-read yesterday's log this morning, it made me want to share an excerpt from it with you.

May 12, 2007 entry: I was looking for a way to give Mohammed a little break, so we decided to go to my small beach cottage in New York for the weekend. Once there, we cleaned things up, had some pizza, and then went on a long walk that turned into a perfect moment. The cottage has access to to a long stretch of beach only 33 kilometers from Manhattan and as we walked along it, Mohammed was surprised not to see any other people. At one point, we veered off the beach, onto a golf course, where the serenity is almost overwhelming. We accidentally came upon a pathway in the woods and decided to follow it back to the harbor's shoreline, to make our trip dramatically shorter.

So, into the brambles we went, with me in the lead kicking through overgrowth, and sure enough we broke through to a stream I knew well that we followed down to the beach. Once there we sat on some rocks.

Mohammed said to me, "No bombs, no shooting, no helicopters, no soldiers, no working." There was just the gentle breeze and the sounds of waves hitting the shore.

In that moment I felt a profound sense of sadness for Mohammed and for all the human beings trapped in the tragedy of Iraq. I could tell that in this same moment, Mohammed relaxed in the way that one relaxes just as when one takes a deep breath that catches. I imagine it's the first time that's happened in many years.

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Written in collaboration with Jennifer Hicks