by David Sisler

Slobodan Milosevic misled Serbia and therefore the United States had to send troops into Bosnia and Kosovo. At least that was the Clinton logic for starting a bombing campaign and organizing a quagmire, uh, excuse me, invasion, uh, excuse me, a stabilizing presence.

Well, we won. Right? Mission accomplished. Right? Milosevic is in custody, to be charged with war crimes. Serbia is run by democrats. Yet in spite of this "victory" the Balkans are on the verge of yet another explosion. And American troops are once again entrenched in a region where they have no business being. It just seems like a victory.

Writing in The Washington Post, Jim Hoagland said, "Two years ago NATO went to war to rescue Kosovo's ethnic Albanians from predatory Serbs. Today the United States and its European allies are taking measured steps to help Serbia and Macedonia resist predatory Albanians. Such is progress in the Balkans."

The current war in the Balkans has many cruel stories. Among the worst is the story of Vlora Shabani.

In April, 1999, when Vlora was thirteen years old, nineteen ethnic Albanians were lined up against the wall of a house and shot by Serbs. Vlora watched from the end of the line as her entire family was murdered.

David Finkel described the scene for The Washington Post.

"She watched them shoot her father. ‘I just saw him fall, and I saw the blood.' Then her 2-year-old brother. ‘His wound was also in the face.' Then her mother. ‘Her forehead blows away into the wall.' Then the guns swung toward the last person in line: ‘Me.' She was covering her face with her hands as the bullet hit her, mangling her left pinkie and then tunneling along her left cheek."

William Brill, a security consultant living in Annapolis read about Vlora, and decided to help.

He went to Kosovo and brought Vlora back to Annapolis where he arranged for a plastic surgeon to smooth the scar on her cheek into a faint line, and for an orthopedic surgeon to give her limited use of her little finger. After a time of visiting in America, Vlora returned to Kosovo where she lives in a house next door to the site of the massacre.

"Her days are said to be less anxious," Finkel writes, "and her nights are said to be more restful, and her scars, at least the physical ones, have been repaired."

Outside scars are the easiest to repair. Repairing inside scars is another matter.

One day a group of religious leaders set a trap for "a woman of easy virtue." Speculation is that her consort was hired as part of the setup. In a scene predating porno movies, but full of the same degradation of women – women as objects to be used, not human beings to be honored – the righteous ones burst in, captured the woman, and dragged her in front of a tribunal.

There they demanded that a young Jewish rabbi from Nazareth decide her guilt or innocence. He told the sinless among her accusers to initiate her ritual death, execution by stoning.

When the crowd had filed out, each man more conscious of his own inner secrets than he wished to admit, Jesus looked at the unnamed adulteress and asked, "Where are the ones who accuse you?"

For just a moment, Jesus would have been just another man. Was he holding a stone? Had he offered it around the group to the now departed Pharisees? Will he be the one to throw it, initiating her execution? Through what scars in her heart did that woman look at Jesus?

I see a smile cross his face as she answers, her voice shaking, "No one is left, except for you."

"I do not condemn you, either," Jesus said, "now from this moment, leave your life of sin. Live like a virgin!"

Vlora's outside scars are fading. Their disappearance is helping the inside scars to fade. She has a long healing process in front of her. What scars still needed healing as the former adulteress gathered herself up and left the arena where certain death walked moments earlier? Jesus touched her with forgiveness, and the scars began to heal. Where are your scars the deepest? Do you understand that the Great Physician is still in the healing business – outside and inside?


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Copyright 2001 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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