Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina: A Place to Learn the Value of Forgiveness by Sheri B Doyle
Earlier this year I took a trip to Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I was expecting it to be beautiful, but I wasn’t expecting it to move me the way it did.
The stone village of Mostar is tucked in the mountains with a vibrant river running through it, splitting it in two. The brown, grey and black stone buildings and streets are so perfect it feels like you have stepped onto the scene of a movie. They have been so well preserved for hundreds of years. It is a bustling village, surviving on tourism. Women hang lacey linens from the sides of the stone bridges showing them off to passersby in hopes of making a sale.
The shops and restaurants are brought to life each day with the joyful spirits of the people working there. They smile, laugh and celebrate life. This is true in many of the places I visit, but in Mostar there seemed to be a deeper appreciation not only for each person visiting but for the life they are able to live every day. Their kindness is an outward expression of the forgiveness they carry in their hearts. I didn’t understand this until I spent more time walking around the more modern part of town.
While I had seen a few bullet holes in buildings in the old town the more modern area shocked me. Buildings were still sitting with massive holes where bombs had ripped through them. Many of the buildings reduced to rubble as bullet holes claimed the exteriors leaving them looking a bit like Swiss cheese. It was such an intense experience to realize this war happened so recently in our history.
As I stood in front of buildings the sorrow and pain the people suffered could not be ignored. While I have seen many sights in the world where horrific things happened this was more intense for me because I was alive when all of this happened. It could so easily have been my father fighting, or my family killed if we lived there. In America we have been so removed from wars on our own soil that to be face to face with something so recent was not only foreign, but also shocking.
The most overwhelming part of the experience though was how quickly the people had begun to heal and forgive. It is a true testimony to the resiliency of the nation and the kindness of the Bosnians.
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