Saturday, January 30, 2010
I begin this conversation with an awareness of the strong political and religious perspectives and implications in discussing peace in the middle east. I tread lightly when entering into a conversation that is so deep, important, complex and controversial. That said, I was asked to tell the truth of what I witnessed during our time in Palestine and Israel, so here goes...
Ten days ago I stepped on an airplane headed to Tel Aviv with 18 incredible individuals ready to listen and experience. We were each ready to walk the Holy sites and hear voices of the people living in Israel and Palestine. (not sure how in the world I wound up on this trip- thanks Jeff and Janet!)
My understanding Israel and Palestine was flat, two dimensional, black and white. I had looked at maps, read statistics, newspaper articles, and of course knew the religious history and ideology that are so important to me, the region and our world.
Through connecting with people, hearing first hand life stories, touching the soil, stone, and water of Israel and Palestine, and tasting enough hummus, pitta and falafel to feed 5000, that perspective was transformed into a multidimensional, multi-layered, textured, full-sensory-love of a community, culture, land and people.
The depth of my understanding of living our Christian faith came to light as we heard of the struggle and the history which has come to define the middle east. We walked empty streets quieted by walls of separation and barbed wire, we encountered desperate vendors with no way to earn a living, attended worship services in a Synagogue, prayed in a Mosque, and visited many beautiful churches. I cried at both the wailing wall and the separation wall- overcome with sadness for the history of human violence, segregation and hate which permeates every segment of our world. I spent a night with a Palestinian family and felt the similarities of life, family and joy so many miles from my home. In meeting with various groups I listened to stories of occupation, felt overwhelmed, anger, intense sadness, and ultimately awe for the incredible resiliency of the human spirit. I took hope from from the stories told time and time again- waiting- waiting and waiting for change.
I hope I can share these stories in a way that honors the incredible people who have shared them. I hope to share in shedding light on some of the hidden and painful injustices and on the incredible beauty in the midst of it all.