Life is mysterious and beautiful. Our Earth is home to people of many cultures and faiths, and I find it particularly interesting when persons cross frontiers, transcend boundaries and build bonds with fellow humans from very different cultures and backgrounds. All the more remarkable, when that person is a woman, acting against the odds and conventions of her time.
To celebrate my birthday I had invited my friends to Adendorf near Bonn on 2. February 2017 to the cinema location Drehwerk 1719. The special thing about this venue is that one can rent it, bring one’s own DVD film and watch it with one’s friends.
The main character in “our film” was the remarkable Gertrude Bell, born in 1868 in Great Britain. She was a traveler, researcher, writer and archeologist. With the events of World War I, in the end she was also a British agent and political officer. As a young woman, she had convinced her family to – instead of marrying her off well – send her abroad to Teheran. She had been one of the first women studying at Oxford and had concluded her studies of contemporary history with a first class honors degree. In many journeys, she visited Syria, the Holy Land, Lebanon the Arabian Peninsula and Mesopotamia, among others. As history unfolded and based on her good contacts in the region and her knowledge of it, she later became an advisor of the British government. - The film about this special woman by Werner Herzog, “Queen of the Desert”, offers a stunning dramatized account of Gertrude Bell, combining her life and love story with the political developments of her time. It also offers amazing images and landscapes – the film was shot in Morocco and Jordan.
After the film, our circle of friends, about 25 people, shared dinner in the bistro on the upper floor and enjoyed each other’s company. After watching the film, I was even more aware of how blessed I am to be in the company of such wonderful friends, some of them URI members – such as Sheikh Bashir, Chadigah Kissel and Marianne Horling – from different areas of life; friends who – like Gertrude Bell - also cross boundaries and build bonds between people of different cultures or backgrounds, everyone in their own ways: in their families, as journalists; doing interreligious and intercultural work; through travels or through dance, music or the arts; in the spiritual realm or in political life, in business or the health sector.
Being together was the most beautiful birthday present for me. I dedicate the evening to the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week, the message of which came out beautifully in our time together.
URI Europe Coordinator