Lebanon, Village of Heaven 
By Fr. Mansour Labaky  
Lo Tedhal Editions, Arab Printing Press: Beirut, 1999

By Guita G. Hourani
Chairwoman of MARI

This book which appeared recently in Lebanon and Paris captures the spirit of Lebanon and its mission through poetry, photography and music. As you leaf through it, you witness springtime awaking in the valleys of Tannourine and Qadisha. Your concerns are put to rest by the resonance of the Nay or reed flute from the accompanying Compact Disc. Now you can ponder: What is the mystery or secret that God holds for this tiny country, the dwelling of the Beloved --Lebanon?

The preface written by Jacqueline de Romilly of the Académie Française (The French Academy) tells about "the sweet splendor which can cloak life in time of peace". It brings to life the peaceful scene of Lebanese villages tucked away in the mountains from where "a peek" at the Mediterranean is possible. Nature in magnificence and the villagers in noble simplicity are in harmony with each other -- and are seen at peace. We are carried back to an idyllic pre-war Lebanon where peace and "the joy of living" prevail, untarnished by the suffering and death of war.

The author leads you, the reader, on a journey through Kfar Sama, "the Village of Heaven" -- Lebanon. You visit villages, mountains and valleys, waterfalls and rivers, churches and houses, and people in their fields or in the village square.

The book introduces you to a grandmother, a "tetta", smiling at you with her cup of Lebanese coffee in hand, her face so content, so loving. She reminds you of the warmth that we all desire and the acceptance for which we all yearn. The book gives a glimpse of the christening of a child who exemplifies all the children of Lebanon -- loved by their parents, family, neighbors and friends. 

"Children of Kfar Sama!" the author writes, "It was thus you were born, in your little houses filled to the brim with relatives and neighbors. It was thus you were born: expected, gazed at, touched and loved by a whole village. Each of you was the child of all."

Father Labaky’s writing is colored by the passion and inspiration felt in Lebanon before, during and after the war. Sadly, he asks: "Why war? Why is Lebanon divided?" The answer comes back: "As long as a man seals shut his heart and his house, he stays a stranger to his brothers and cannot claim to welcome God." There are people who shiver with cold in the dark because they never open their windows to the warm rays of the sun. But this doesn't keep the sun from bringing light and warmth to the earth. Like sunlight, love is within our reach. 

"My child! God no more wants us to kill than He wants us to take our own life. On the night of the Nativity, His angels sang: ‘Peace on the earth to men of good will.’ Peace, my child, is love and justice. Only a man filled with love can be just."

Father Labaky is hopeful about the future of his beloved Kfar-Sama. He writes, "Kfar Sama understood that it had to love as much and even more than before. It had to give as much and more, so that its love and self-sacrifice might fill the earth with light. When we stop loving, the darkness of death begins. No one can destroy the paradise of the children of Kfar Sama because paradise took root within them."

Beyond describing Lebanon’s wonders of nature and its inspiring people, this book gives hope that once again peace will reign. The accompanying CD contains soft, Lebanese folk melodies with voice-over lyrics in French by J. Piat. The photographs are the work of Mounir Nasr. Artistic conception is that of by J. B. Valadié. The book is available in Arabic, French, English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch.

To obtain a copy of this book, please write to the following addresses:

38, rue des Epinettes
75017 Paris, France
Fax 33 1 42 28 06 82
E-Mail: Itncpp@club-internet.fr

Foyer Notre-Dame du Sourire 
Mansourieh (Mountazah), Lebanon
Fax 961 4 530 920    
E-Mail: Itncpl@inco.com.lb

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