/ First Hand Experiences
Malak Mattar Art

Tree of Life Journey: January 2 – 13, 2024

Optional Extension to Bosnia – January 13 to 19

In all his letters Mazin Qumsiyeh, our good friend, founder of the Palestine Natural History Museum, professor at Bethlehem University and author of “Sharing the Land of Canaan” closes with the important reminder to “Stay Human.”

Malak Mattar-Children of Gaza Dreaming of Peace

Children of Gaza Dreaming of Peace by Malak Mattar

As we all struggle with so much inhumanity, we need that wise reminder now more than ever, and we need to follow the example of our friends in Palestine who despite apartheid and ethnic cleansing exemplify what it means to “stay human” even when surrounded by increasing violence, hate, greed, fear, and the apathy of the international community.

The wisdom of the prophets suggests that we cannot do it alone. The Hopi elders said, “The time of the lone wolf is over… We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”  Philosophers speak of “Telos Anthropos” and the evolution of the human spirit.  The prophet Moses said, “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets.” The prophet Mohammed prayed with the prophets who came before him, including Moses and Jesus. Peace be upon them.  Jesus empowered his followers by saying that they would do even more than what he had been able to do to advance the cause of justice and peace.

Our next Tree of Life journey will be held during the darkest time of winter, – “In the Bleak Midwinter” – at a time when we can remember how it was an interfaith group that gathered at the manger when Jesus was born during the winter solstice. The shepherds, Mary and Joseph were Jews, followers of Moses and the great prophets of Israel. In giving birth to Jesus, Mary would be giving birth to what would eventually be called, “Christianity”, and in the manger in Bethlehem, this Holy Extended Interfaith Family would be joined by wise travelers from Persia, Zoroastrians, who sought an answer to that perennial question, “to discover how to be human now is the reason we follow the star.” (from W.H. Auden, “For The Time Being”). During the horrendous injustices of the industrial revolution, including the cruel treatment of children, the poet William Blake said, “Thine own humanity learn to adore”. Now, more than ever, in the face of so much inhumanity, we need such “adoration.”

Malak Mattar-Motherhood

Motherhood by Malak Mattar

Now, more than ever, we need border-less mangers. We need “doctors without borders”, “scientists without borders, “musicians without borders” and “teachers and nurses without borders”. We need interfaith enclaves of those who seek to strengthen our common humanity, those who are looking to move away from theologies of entitlement to theologies of humility, those who know that the future of the human race is not in boundaries, sectarianism, racism and nationalism but rather in our shared humanity.

If you also are in search of your deeper humanity, if you wish to move beyond theologies of exclusion, if you want to meet Tree of Life’s extraordinary ensemble of friends – Christians, Muslims, Jews and those of no particular faith identity who everyday demonstrate what it means “To Stay Human”, please join us! We’d love to introduce you to our friends!

Our journey in the Land of Promise – the Land of too many broken promises – will be from January 2nd to January 13th, and then, from January 13th to January19, for those who can join us for the extension, we will have the extraordinary opportunity to visit Bosnia, a place that continues to struggle but in courageous and compassionate individuals demonstrates a more hopeful future!

We are very honored that our good friend Miki Nermin, originally from Bosnia and now one of the leaders at the Bosnian-Islamic Cultural Center in Hartford will be one of the leaders on our journey.   Here is his description for our extension in Bosnia:

There is a country in Europe whose capital city was under siege for 1,425 days in  the 1990s,  the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare.

The biggest genocide after the holocaust in Europe was committed in this country where UN troops and NATO witnessed it and refused to help.

“Sarajevo Safari” is a term used for rich foreigners who paid money to shoot civilians (often children) from the positions of the Republika Srpska (RS) Army in besieged Sarajevo during the 1990s.

Despite all the suffering, the people of Bosnia are known for their smiles, friendships, and dark humor. For many of us, humor is one way of dealing with the trauma from the past.

Sarajevo is often referred to as Jerusalem of Europe because major religions and people of different faiths coexisted with each other for many centuries.

The word “Bosna” means running water. This is a beautiful country with lots of rivers, exceptional natural parks, and mountains. Winter Olympic games were held there in 1984.

Join us in our journey in January of 2024 and meet the courageous people of Bosnia. Enjoy the beautiful landscape but also get to learn about its past and present struggles. The people of Bosnia will be happy to host you.”



David W. Good
Founder, Tree of Life Educational Fund


If you have questions, please contact Ghoufran Allababidi,


About the artwork: The paintings on this page are by Malak Mattar. Malak is a self-taught artist and published author who paints expressionist faces, figures, and semi-abstract designs, She started painting at the age of 14, during the 51-day military assault on Gaza in 2014, using school art supplies. Her artwork began to draw interest from galleries and museums around the world and, since that time, her paintings have been featured in individual and group exhibitions in Costa Rica, England, France, India, Palestine, Scotland, Spain, Holland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, and eleven US states. Mattar is also the author and illustrator of Sitti’s Bird: A Gaza Story, a children’s book based on her own life story. Learn more about Malak Mattar here.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap