I’ve had a love affair with Indonesia for a long time now. Curiously, it started with its poetry long before I ever visited the country. But the people and the place are the real magic for me. Indonesia is a land (and waters) of stunning beauty, a people of peace and wonder, and a remarkable, storied culture.

I long to go back and when something like the bombings in Jakarta this week happens, my heart sinks that Indonesia and its people may suffer.

A few years ago, after the Bali bombings that killed 20 people and injured 129 and reports of other terrorist activities surfaced, I wrote a poem called “Sons of Abraham,” which has not yet been published. It may be too difficult a subject to be published. (Of course, it also may be that it is not yet finished or polished enough for publication!)

I want to share it here in the wake of the Jakarta bombings and in honor and memory of all victims of terrorism everywhere:


We are all strung together
by thin filaments of air,
fragments of faith and our burning desire
to please God, to engender
a kind of blessing. Time
is the fragrance of one age
evoking another; essence
is our connection on earth.

I harbor neither empathy nor anger
for people who set off bombs in Bali,
only pity. I am sorry for them,
honoring their God in this way:
beheading Christian village leaders,
decapitating young girls
on their way to school or attacking
women because they wear a burqa
or pray to Mecca.

How sad to think God can be appeased
by such actions, that He wants
such a fate for you—

As for God, I forgive His negligence
or lack of supervision, all leaders are flawed.
We are all Sons of Abraham,
that model of faith, and we are all
struck down by hearts of stone,
leaden particles of dust
shattering between us
in the opaque calculation
of suicide bombs—
“Forgive them, Father,
for they know not what they’ve done.”

–Scott Edward Anderson
(Note: There are families in eastern Indonesia who have married two faiths, Christian and Muslim. The first-born son or daughter is baptized; the next is raised in Islam. We are all connected. I love my Muslim brothers and sisters as well as my Christian, my Jewish, my Buddhist, and my Hindu families. There is only one God.)

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