A Journey Worth Taking: Reflections from the Executive Director

December 12, 2008

Dear Friend of the Path:

Two years ago, I joined with 24 people from ten countries to retrace the journey of Abraham and his family from Harran (Turkey) to Hebron/Al Khalil (Palestine). I was invited to participate in this Harvard study tour of the path as a volunteer, stemming from my three decades of work in helping to create healthier, more sustainable communities. My purpose then was to help envision the path as a platform for highlighting cultural heritage, advancing sustainable economic development, and promoting social justice and human well-being.

The journey reawakened my own faith and call to service. I found myself not only helping facilitate some of the first multi-sector strategic conversations on that first trip, but being invited a few months later to be the first Executive Director of this organization. As I began to learn from the ancient masar itself, it became clear that any "re-awakening of the route" needed to first serve the people and places of the path, even as it might become a beacon to the world of our shared humanity.

Over these last two years, I have encountered a rich mosaic of wise and courageous people, from heads of state to villagers, who share the aspiration to be part of something very positive for the region and for the world. This support has enabled us to:

  • generate over one hundred million media touches
  • open initial path segments in four countries
  • survey over 300 km, and map and delineate over 150 km
  • host multiple youth walks and partner groups on the path
  • initiate a global youth network
  • build strong partnerships and receive highest level endorsements in each country
  • significantly expand our active partners and staff team in the region

My commitment has been to help facilitate the opening of the path in a good way, with a profound respect for the diverse people and places of the path. Having been raised a Christian, this process has deepened my own faith, and also broadened my appreciation of other wisdom traditions and the cultures of this region. I believe that the masar can make a profound contribution to the world, and during this time in history there has been no more important place for service where I could be, nothing to which I would rather have given my time and energy.

The objective of the Abraham Path Initiative in the next year is do a few things very well that will help move this path forward in the best way possible. To that end, in 2009 the API is:

  • advancing the on-the-ground plans designed by our local partners and staff in each nation
  • participating with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and Outward Bound in a global youth leadership experience on the path
  • hosting multiple catalytic walks including a series lead by our chair, Dr. William Ury, in each country of the masar; and a number of local and international youth walks
  • putting in place infrastructure to support partnerships with national and international tour operators to support tourism on the path

This is not an easy journey, as anyone who has been involved with this project knows. Yet it's a journey worth taking, with courage and humility.

In the spirit of the gracious hospitality of the region, I invite you to join the Abraham Path. Look for ways each day in your own life that you can bring about the path's values of inclusion and respect. Take a walk with someone and get to know them more. Share a meal. Make room for connections to happen. In doing so, you are already walking the Abraham Path.

Today, even as the world face profound economic challenges, there is an important window of opportunity to improve relationships around the world. Please consider an end of year contribution to advance our shared vision of connecting the human family. The Abraham Path Initiative is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and your donations are fully tax-deductible. Donate online or mail a check to the address below.

As Joseph Campbell said, "One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that."

Sending best wishes to you and your family,

Tyler Norris
Executive Director (2007-2008)