Blood and Water in Sarajevo

In February, Jim Douglass traveled to Zagreb and Sarajevo to continue his work of building support for a peace pilgrimage of world religious leaders to Sarajevo (see "Between the Lines," April 1994). Douglass then traveled to Rome, where he met with Vatican officials; and, with Jim Forest, co- secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship and longtime activist, to Belgrade and Serbia in March to meet with Orthodox Church officials. He plans to return to his home in Birmingham, Alabama, in early April. Douglass, a theologian and activist, sent us this reflection while he was in Rome, midway through his own pilgrimage for peace. —The Editors

Sarajevo...

I say the word to myself in the center of Piazza San Pietro. Our vigil line, composed mostly of Catholic sisters, stands in the midst of students clowning and snapping pictures of one another, with pigeons strutting about them in the sun.

Once in a while, I glance up at the window of Pope John Paul II, one of the religious leaders who we are praying will go on pilgrimage to Sarajevo. We who vigil, fast, and pray for that vision, standing in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, seem distant from Sarajevo.

But in the pocket next to my heart is a reminder, a rock I picked up at the crater made in the Sarajevo market by the mortar shell that struck there February 5. And on my feet are another reminder—the boots that stood there that afternoon of the massacre in a stream of blood and rain.

THIS IS WHAT I SAW in Sarajevo February 1-10, 1994:

It was total darkness the night of February 1 when the United Nations APC taxi from the airport shuddered to a halt, clanked its rear doors open, and dropped me off beside the Catholic cathedral in Sarajevo. Soldiers challenged me for a passport. Then I groped my way through the dark streets to Renata’s apartment, three blocks away.

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Sojourners Magazine May 1994
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