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Peaceful Words For Times Of Conflict

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This difficult time in Gaza has flamed many comments and much anger. My late-husband, Chaim Stern, was liturgist for the reform movement of Judaism. I will let some of his writings speak for me with hopes that they help in further discussions of difficult and complex problems ahead. They are taken from his book, Day by Day.

For the times that I could have made peace with my neighbor but picked a quarrel, forgive me; and forgive me, too, for the times when I could have accepted with grace an offering of friendship or reconciliation but did not choose to listen. At times, in my willfulness, I may have closed my heart to the possibility of a healing word: Today - and tomorrow -- let my heart be open.

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May I be among those who are hard to provoke and easy to appease. May I be a friend of peace at home and at work, and everywhere I go. When I am angry let me reflect whether my anger is proportionate to its cause and appropriate in its expression.

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Keep me from stubborn insistence on always having my way, even when my cause is doubtful, and the truth is unclear. Keep me however from conceding to wrong and from accepting violence as a way to resolve disputes. O help me to walk serenely and with good conscience, to accept that I am not the only one with integrity. May I seek the good, even when it seems not to my own advantage.

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Make the door of my heart wide enough to receive all whom I may meet this day. And make it too narrow to allow entrance to envy, pride and strife.

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Help me to enter into the mind of the one who stands before me, and keep me alive to the feelings of each one present. Let no word or act - mine or theirs - divide me from my kin. Give us all, instead, a quick eye for little kindnesses, and that we may be ready in doing them and gracious in receiving them.

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