Olives for Hope

If the world is ever going to come to peace,
humanity can no longer be recognized 
on a case by case basis.


What's a little drama?

Posted on October 1, 2011 at 3:15 AM


Drama is to be expected when traveling to Israel / Palestine. You just have to hope that it is only the annoying variety (like a mosquito, rather than a wasp). Besides, a little bit of drama is good to wake us up! Mine started at the airport stateside. I thought I had plenty of time, several hours to get to the gate. I went to the lounge, wrote some email, got a sandwich, and strolled to the gate. I got there as the plane that had just loaded was about to shut the doors - The plane they had bumped me to, without telling me…. Last minute dash to my seat. Then we sat….and sat. There was “weather” near Philadelphia. In the end, we left at the same time my original flight was scheduled. Other than a luggage cart at Ben Gurion that hated me (seriously, I had to steer in concentric circles to move forward – believe me I had to refrain from using the more colorful Arabic I have learned!) the rest of my travel was pretty uneventful.

I think the luggage cart is a pretty good metaphor for the way I experience life, think and (hopefully) learn. I move forward in a broad arc rather than a straight line, then move back through some of the same “stuff”, hopefully picking up some new understanding, then arcing forward again, only to return once more, but hopefully ending up a little further ahead than before. It sure is a slow process, and it can be very frustrating. Just when I think I have “gotten it” about a particular situation, I feel like I am back in the middle of it – again. But I am finding that like when I stopped fighting the cart, if I surrender to that process, it takes me where I need to go, eventually. (And for some reason, I find that comes a lot easier here.)

The raw beauty of this place never ceases to make me pause. My apartment overlooks a valley - there is something very magical about listening to the call to prayer echo through the valley as the sun goes down. I have a lovely garden / patio where I can sit and relax. But, it does need a bit of clean up. So much here is like that - beautiful, but needs a little work.   Nothing can be taken for granted here and everything you thought you knew is upside down. I was speaking with another staff member about how this place affects people. People either love it or hate it – there is no middle ground; but either way, no one leaves unchanged. You just have to let it ‘crack you open’. I hope over the course of the next months, I do not lose that feeling.


Just Say No!

Posted on September 24, 2011 at 1:55 AM

Just Say No! (to the Occupation)

Over the past couple of months I have read a lot of varying opinions regarding the Palestinian call for recognition as a full member state in the UN. Palestinians themselves were not uniform in support of the resolution. There are a lot of unanswered questions, things that I find very concerning, such as how it would affect the right of return for the refugees. But, last weekend I was speaking with a young Palestinian American who put the question into perspective for me. He was jubilant about the prospect that Abbas would present the request to the UN. This was not because he thought it would be successful, but the opposite. He agreed that, of course the US would veto any resolution. His point was that through the veto, it would be obvious that the Emperor wears no clothes. I have to say, even though I think he may be a little naïve, I was persuaded.

The contrast between the speeches of Obama, Netenyahu and Abbas was fairly striking. Obama seemed so defeated, I almost felt sorry for him. Netenyahu did what he does best – remind us of just how very afraid we should be - he even spoke about 9/11. And Abbas gave the best speech I have heard him give. Honor and pride are very important in Palestinian culture, and I was very happy to see him reclaim them for the Palestinian people. Yes, it was just a moment. But, it was an important moment. A moment he will be remembered for – for saying “NO” to the US. It will be interesting to have a front row seat and I am looking forward to sharing what I see.

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.

"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."

"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.

"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

~ Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


Great Expectations

Posted on September 17, 2011 at 2:45 AM

Expectation - A strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.” Henry David Thoreau

Expectation gets a bad rap – We are told that expectation breeds disappointment and some people rebel at the thought that others might have expectations of them (even though they have their own expectations). There is nothing wrong with having expectations; they are like the skeleton that moves us through life.

I expect the sun to come up tomorrow, I expect cars to stop at red lights, I expect strawberries to taste good and I expect to be treated with kindness and respect. There is nothing wrong with that, but we also have to understand that sometimes it does not happen that way. The sun may come up unseen because the day is filled with storms, cars sometimes run red lights and create accidents, strawberries are sometimes rotten, and sometimes people are cruel. What really matters is what we do next. I can’t give up on the sun, or driving, or strawberries (never strawberries), and I certainly cannot give up on people (even though, once in a while, in those darker moments I think I might).


On September 21 Mamoud Abbas is expected to seek UN recognition for a Palestinian State. What happens after is anyone’s guess, but I don’t think anyone expects the resolution to get past a US veto. However, much like I cannot give up on people, Palestinians cannot give up on Justice (even though, once in a while, in those darker moments, some might). The 21st is also the International Day of Peace and the Global Day of Listening. So when you go to sleep Tuesday night, add a prayer for Palestine, and while you are at it, a prayer for Israel too.


In 10 days I expect to leave for Palestine. I expect to see old friends and meet some new ones. But what else will I find? – I don’t know what to expect….other than the dawn.


Doctor, My Eyes

Posted on September 9, 2011 at 9:55 PM

I have done all that I could...To see the evil and the good without hiding...You must help me if you can….Doctor, my eyes...Tell me what is wrong...Was I unwise to leave them open for so long?

Do you remember? Where you were? You know, that day….9/11. The question is everywhere right now. I know I am supposed to feel a part of this nationalized sense of grief….but I don’t. I understand the shock many felt that day – the US is invincible after all (at least that is what we were told). And yes, many people, all sorts of people, died that day – a microcosm of the US; wealthy people, poor people, blue collar, white collar, whatever collar, young, old, Asian, Hispanic, white, black, Atheist, Christian, Jew, Moslem, and so many more. When I see the unending commentary, and the heart wrenching biographies play on television I do feel sad – for the victims and their loved ones, not for me. This is their tragedy, not mine.


I know that not only are we mourning the loss of lives that day, but also a sense of entitlement (that we weren’t really entitled to). But instead of learning and growing stronger from that, the US had a temper tantrum, stomping around the globe to “make them pay”. In the process many, many…many more people (mostly brown people) lost their lives as well. Did it work? Are we really safer? Do we feel better? It doesn’t look like it from here.


There were a lot of heroes that day, and there were amazing acts of compassion and kindness. But where are we now? That sense of our common humanity was the final victim of the terrorists. I think it is the cruelest lesson they left us with. This country has become fearful and yes, mean. I am very afraid for this country. But not because of some perceived outside threat. We have seen the enemy and the enemy is us.It is time to learn a new lesson, but are we too far gone? I hope not –

Doctor, my eyes...Tell me what you see...I hear their cries...Just say if it's too late for me

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.

Quaker Oats (no, not oatmeal!)

Posted on September 3, 2011 at 10:00 AM

I believe in prophecy.

Some folks see things not everybody can see.

And,once in a while, they pass the secret along to you and me.


The issue of faith has been prominent this week. A group of Atheists and Agnostics put up a billboard near me that sparked a lot of discussion. It suggested that one could be a good person and live a good life without believing in God.  It is a pretty radical statement in this area. I have also been confronted several times with statements aligning Christianity with the instruction to “Stand with Israel”.


And as the Quaker faith is a “peculiar” faith, a number of people have asked me “What exactly, do Quakers believe?” Anyone that has ever asked, or attempted to answer that question knows, there is no one straight-line answer. I do my best, explain it is not so much about what we believe, but it is about who we are and what we do. However, one of the beautiful (and hard) things about the Quaker faith is that no one person can define it for other Quakers.


And I believe in miracles.

Something sacred burning in every bush and tree.

We can all learn to sing the songs the angels sing.

Yeah, I believe in God, and God ain't me.


There is nothing about faith that speaks of rationality and logic. It is not linear, or black and white. Yet, at the same time it makes so much sense. I remember in high school Earth Science class, my instructor was an atheist. One day he asked me “How can you know what you know, and still believe in God?” My answer was “How can you know what you know, and NOT believe in God?”

I've traveled around the world,

Stood on mighty mountains and gazed across the wilderness.

Never seen a line in the sand or a diamond in the dust.


 I had a conversation once in Nazareth with someone that was wrestling with their own faith. He spoke about the faith of the worshippers there (we were at the Church of the Annunciation) as superstition. I don’t believe he was referring to their belief in God in general, but of the ritualistic way of expressing their faith (yes, there was a holy water drinking fountain). Although I don’t believe what they believe, I can see how in their (very scary) world, faith in those rituals can be comforting.T he problem with faith as I see it, is that too many people use it as a weapon. Somehow my faith (or lack, of in their minds) is a personal assault which they must confront.


And as our fate unfurls.
Every day that passes I'm sure about a little bit less.
Even my money keeps telling me it's God I need to trust.

And I believe in God, but God ain't us.


I saw the same when I visited the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem and the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. The rituals themselves are different, but yet very similar. And they all serve the same purpose - to create a sense of connection with God. Quakers don’t (in general) put much stock in rituals, though I have often said that I think sometimes Quakers can be quite ritualistic in their “non-ritualism”.


God,in my little understanding, don't care what name I call.

Whether or not I believe doesn't matter at all.


A Jewish friend once said to me “I am not concerned about saving the State of Israel. I am concerned about saving Judaism.” She is certain (and I agree) that the politics of Zionism are corrupting the faith. But, it is not so different in Christianity and in Islam. It is very sad to me that something as profoundly personal as faith is so skillfully used to push political agendas. When we feel threatened, we so easily forget that the essence of faith is not to support a particular politics, but to look outside ourselves and create community in this world we have been given.


I receive the blessings.
That every day on Earth's another chance to get it right.

Let this little light of mine shine and rage against the night.


Faith, however, is a political statement. Regardless of what one believes about the inerrancy of the Bible, you have to be struck by the fact that Jesus was a revolutionary whose only weapon was love. “Love your neighbor” – it doesn’t get much simpler, or harder than that. (Power to the People!)


Just another lesson
Maybe someone's watching and wondering what I got.
Maybe this is why I'm here on Earth, and maybe not.

But I believe in God, and God is God.


['God is God' by Steve Earle, is on his recent release 'I'll never get out of this world alive"]

Let's start with Hello

Posted on August 26, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Yesterday the Grand Rapids Lite version of the Glen Beck Road Show came to town. It came complete with a brass band, “patriotic songs” and fawning politicians. The website describes it as:

“Restoring Courage US is a series of coordinated events in states across the country to highlight the courage of the Israeli people and spread their resilience across The United States of America”

I was there to pass out fliers for a conference about the Israeli / Palestinian conflict . After I finished passing out fliers I joined my friends that were protesting. One told me of a confrontation he had with a Christian Zionist. This person broke his sign and grabbed the fliers he was passing out, and then threw them away. This kind of behavior never ceases to dumbfound me. If you are so sure in your point of view, you do not need to shut down other views.

Afterwards I had dinner across the street with a friend. She is Palestinian from Ramle. She was an infant in 1948 when she and her family were forced to leave Palestine as the State of Israel was founded. The restaurant where we ate is owned by Palestinians.

As we were eating, the Rabbi, who moments before had railed about the need for unquestioning support of Israel, brought his family in for dinner. My friend challenged me to “stick it to him” and give him her flier about the occupation. I tried to explain to her that I am not really a stick it to him kinda gal. I think she was disappointed. Some people are good at direct confrontation, not me. I’m the person that will say “let me tell you a story”.

The Rabbi was there with his young daughter as well, and if there is one thing I understand about most fathers, it is you do not challenge them in front of their children. I do, however, want to tell him the story of the woman who had just served him. How what she heard him say created so much pain for her; How just minutes before she waited on him, she had tears in her eyes telling me some of her family’s story.

When dealing with the Israeli / Palestinian conflict I find there are three kinds of people. The choir are people who already believe what I believe. I don’t need to convince them, but it is good to spend time with them to recharge myself. The loyal opposition will never believe what I believe. Confronting them takes a certain personality and skills I do not possess. In my opinion, they are there so that we waste our time and energy. Their goal is that we never get to talking with the third group - Those that are their ‘soft’ supporters. These are the people most likely to notice when the things the loyalists say do not match reality. This is where the small cracks in their armor can be seen. But if you go at these people with full force confrontation, they will fortify that armor and move closer to the loyalists. Talking to these people is my strength because, while my heart breaks for Palestine, I also feel an honest compassion for Jewish Israelis, and yes, even the settlers. I have witnessed first hand how the children are trained to hate Palestinians and how they are manipulated by their government (“Forgive them, they know not what they do” ). Many really are desperate and damaged people. However, don't confuse that compassion for agreement.

Not only would “sticking it to him” not have worked, it wasn’t in my heart. Just like a baseball team has many different positions, so does this struggle. Some are great pitchers, others catchers and yet others are great fielders; and it is not necessarily a good idea to have your catcher pitch. To be the most effective member of this team I can be, I need to understand where my own skills lie and develop them., I am still, however, sad to have disappointed my friend.

So much can be healed in this world with just a start. Sure it’s messy - Sure it’s hard - especially after a long estrangement. But there was never anything, worth anything, that came easy. Whether it’s between two people or between nations, it has to start somewhere - so why don’t we just start with hello (let me tell you a story).

[Now, I think I have an email to write to a Rabbi….]


Keep the crazy in your back pocket!

Posted on August 12, 2011 at 8:00 PM

"We are all like the bright moon, we still have our darker side." — Khalil Gibran


This week, I am participating in the first required residency for the Masters in Mental Health Counseling through Walden University. This is actually my first quarter in the program and, once again, other people are telling me that I am brave. This kind of courage though comes easy; but if it comes easy, then is it courage at all?


The first advice my section advisor / professor gave our group was “keep the crazy in your back pocket”. She was stressing to us that at all times we are being evaluated by the entire staff (people were sent home after day one), and that although we all have “stuff” and, even if we are ‘Right’, this wasn’t the place to let it out. This week, however, I have seen plenty of crazy slipping out (the mental health field is referred to as the profession of the wounded…)


It has been tough – long and challenging days, plus lots of heat and humidity (we are in Orlando, Florida). All in all though, I have found a new confidence in the program itself, in my choice to be in the program and in my own skills! I have challenged myself to take risks, and I have been able to think more about what I really want to do and where I want to be at the end of the program. That is where the real courage will be needed…..


It is also challenging to not know what is going on in the world around me because we exist in an academic cocoon. Prior to leaving for Florida I saw that the protests across Israel were growing in number and intensity. I also heard a report that Netenyahu approved more settlement units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank to address the housing crisis that instigated the protests.


I did read that there was unease and controversy about the fact the protests did not include a call for an end to the occupation (certainly they could at least acknowledge the money spent on the settlement project could be better used in Israel proper). I share those concerns. I do not understand how there can be a struggle for social justice when it does not include the Palestinians - not even the 20% of Israel’s population that are Palestinian citizens of Israel. (At the same time there has been a move in the Knesset to remove Arabic as an official language in Israel.) Palestinians and everyone struggling for equal human rights for all in the ‘Land of Canaan’ feels the frustration.


These are tough times for all involved in the struggle. But they are also hopeful times. Weekly protests against the Wall in villages like Bil'in and Al-Walaja continue and following the return of 200 acres to the village of Bil'in last June, the Palestinian Hydrology Group plans to alleviate the poverty of 20 of Bil'in's poorest farmers by constructing water cisterns on the returned land and providing seed, fertilizer and seedlings.


The movement is maturing and finding its voice. It is being heard and accepted in more places. Even in the United States I hear more questioning of the current and ongoing policy toward Israel and Palestine. Along with hope however, is also concern. What will happen in September? Will the Palestinian Authority move forward with a call in the United Nations for Palestine to be accepted as a member state? What will happen in Israel and Palestine after?


Last week I wrote about the things I wanted to do and places I wanted to revisit when I return to Bethlehem in September. I referred to them as “fun”, meaning only that these were things that would happen outside of the official “job” I was there to do. I would add to that list my hope to see a new beginning for Israel and Palestine, but I have to wonder, will everyone remember to “keep the crazy in their back pocket”?


There is no place like home

Posted on July 29, 2011 at 11:58 PM

I have said before that in my travels to Palestine, one of the lessons I have learned is that it is possible to be homesick for somewhere you have never lived. I recently saw a comment by another activist who said “Palestine is like an incurable virus that gets into your blood.” It is one of those intangible things that you have to experience to really understand. Some might even say it is a past life memory – I don’t know about that, but what I do know is that it feels like home.

I have also said that I feel a sense of guilt because it is easy, at least relatively, for me to travel to Palestine. I definitely have to plan around concerns about how security will treat me and each time I go I am a little more nervous that they will decide I don’t need to come back. However, that is nothing compared to the struggles experienced by my friends who, by rights should be able to travel there freely, but can’t just because of their Palestinian heritage.

It is not just that it is difficult for them, for some it is not possible at all. It depends on “what kind of Palestinian” they are. If you are Palestinian with Israeli citizenship you can travel abroad and return, just like any other Israeli. Well, not exactly. You may be subjected to increased interrogation by security upon arriving and/or departing. The one thing Israeli security is open about is its policy of racial profiling. The same is true if you are a Palestinian who, because your family was expelled in 1948 and became citizens of another country, never received Palestinian ID. In that case you can travel to Israel on your foreign passport, American, Canadian etc. However, because you are Palestinian with a connection to the lands that became Israel, you should be prepared to spend some ”quality” time with the “welcoming committee”. If you are a Palestinian from Gaza or the West Bank, well visiting within Israel is pretty much not happening…. And they are certainly not able to fly through the Ben Gurion airport (they have to exit through Jordan).

Recently when I was talking with my friend from the Al Bassa community in Lansing, he told me about a group of Canadian ‘Bassawis’ who traveled for the first time to their native village of Al Bassa in what is now Israel. (Earlier in the year I posted Nimer’s story of the events of 1948 that resulted in the expulsion of the villagers of Al Bassa.) I contacted a couple of the women from the group to ask them how they experienced the trip.

Helene is 27 and Rolla is 24. Both were born in Kuwait and moved to Canada when they were toddlers. Although they never lived in Al Bassa, they both expressed an immediate connection to the land of their ancestors.

Rolla - This trip was amazing as it gave me the opportunity to see first-hand where my family comes from. I felt bittersweet - happy, because I finally got to see the beautiful country. Sad - because not a lot of Palestinians will ever get to see what I saw, including those in the West Bank or Gaza. Also a bit angry to see what my people have been stripped of, and robbed. I have never seen or smelled such breathtaking things. The olive trees, countless mountains and hills, lush green forests. The Palestinian people, especially from the Al Bassa community that still live in Palestine were so humble and welcoming. The food tasted sweeter there. The sun was warmer there.

They each recounted their experience with Israeli security on arriving at Ben Gurion Airport. After a 13 hour flight, they endured a seven hour interrogation because they are Palestinian.

Helene - The issue that stuck out for me the most was being held in the airport for 7 hours upon arrival in Tel Aviv. This unnecessary prolonged and repetitive interrogation was quite ridiculous. I could understand wanting to protect everyone and keep the place safe, but extensive interrogation towards people of Arab descent was clearly biased, unprovoked, and the epitome of discrimination. It almost felt like the authorities were trying to deter us or other people like us (Palestinians) from returning to visit - even if they are Canadian, even if they are simply there to visit the holy land and the land of their ancestors, with no political agendas - as we were. I will never forget how frustrated our travel group was after a 13 hour flight, to be put through over 7 hours of interrogation simply because we were of Palestinian descent.

Both also spoke of their profound sadness, (although joy as well) to visit the Albassa church, which is the only remaining building of the village, and it too is being lost to time and vandalism.

Helene - I could almost feel the presence of the people that used to live there before they were exiled. Standing in the beat down church, I almost started crying, knowing that my grandparents and great grandparents probably used to pray in the very same church of their village, a church now in shambles - a church that has been abused time and time again by disrespecting Jews.

Rolla -When we stepped into the church, there was an aura I couldn't explain. I began imaging how my grandparents would have walked through there, would have celebrated milestones and occasions... And with that another hard moment was hearing the stories of vandalism and disrespect by the local Israelis to what they did to the church ….only because it is Palestinian. For example, our fellow Bassawis laboriously try to clean and restore as much as they could, and lock it up to preserve it, but only to discover it gets broken into, and find drugs paraphernalia (ie needles) inside. It's disheartening to hear and know that happens; that this is all that remains from my roots; a town only now of a few ruins to mark its existence, only to be vandalized and disrespected...

While at the church, Helene took some soil from the ground to bring home with her - to “bring home, back home”. Her grandmother, who always yearned to return to Al Bassa, died several years ago. She had not been able to return, so Helen brought something of Al Bassa back to her grandmother by sprinkling some of that dirt on her grave.

I recently learned that the home my parents built and we lived in during my high school years has been torn down and replaced with a new home. I certainly can not say that it held the same connection for me that the Al Bassa church has for these women, but I did feel a small pang of loss – like a touch stone had disappeared. I can only imagine the sense of loss for Helen, Rolla and the others from Al Bassa. And, I know that if tomorrow I was told I could not return to Palestine, it would break my heart.


What's so funny about Peace, Justice and Security?

Posted on July 16, 2011 at 1:31 AM

I love the sacred and spiritual kindness which should be the source of every law upon the earth, for kindness is the shadow of God in man. ~ Gibran


One of the ongoing arguments in the push-pull of Israel / Palestine is between the concepts of ‘peace with justice’ and ‘peace with security’. It was recently raised again when a new Facebook page received some attention as a forum for Palestinians and Jewish Israelis to get to know each other. I can’t say what the actual motives are behind the page, but it certainly has stirred up the debate.

Rationally, I understand that a peace without justice is not a real peace. It would be a detente, but not really peace. On the other hand, when the word justice is used like a flag, it feels like a threat to "the other". They wonder "what do you mean by justice?", "Do I need to give up my home, my way of life, my security?" I agree that justice has to be the endgame, but to demand it up front is very similar to demanding "security" before peace - neither can be a precedent for peace. Demanding peace upfront is also illogical and shallow. All of these are fruits of the process...not the process itself.

It is only by taking a risk to be vulnerable, to experience true dialogue can we get to peace, justice and security. If I am able to get to know and care about "the other" as my brother or sister, it would hurt me to see them in pain. So I then become willing to make sacrifices for them. Their justice or security would no longer be a threat to me, and I can begin to understand that my comfort came at a cost to someone else. Once that happens we move a lot closer to peace. Maybe I am naive, but I believe that through connection. we will get to Peace, Justice and Security.


Let Freedom Ring

Posted on July 8, 2011 at 11:30 PM

This is my song * oh God of all the nations * A song of peace for lands afar and mine

This week in the US we celebrated Independence Day. We “let freedom ring” with fireworks, parades and festivals. But, I have to wonder, how many people took a moment away from the barbecue to consider what freedom really means? In America I think it most often means the freedom to buy mass quantities of things, very cheaply. Most of us do not understand that consumerism fuels a world order that rewards greed and not freedom. While many here cheer the ‘Arab Spring’, and hail what they see as people desiring to have American style democracy and freedom, they don’t take the time to understand America’s role in creating the very despots the revolutionaries are seeking to overthrow. And, woe to those same revolutionaries, if their version of Democracy isn’t American enough.

This is my home * the country where my heart is * here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine


I do understand the advantages I enjoy because I was born in America. I value our constitution and the values enshrined in that document. The founding fathers, although flawed, were visionaries. They gave us a foundation of which we can be proud. The men (and women) that put their lives on the line for the conviction that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” call on us to honor their sacrifices by living up to those ideals.

But other hearts * in other lands are beating * with hopes and dreams * as true and high as mine

My personal celebration included rereading the declaration of Independence (http//www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/) It is an inspiring document. Unfortunately, too often those words have been used as a political tool of convenience – that apply to these people, but not those people.

My countries skies are bluer than the ocean * and sunlight beams * on clover leaf and pine

We cheer for the young people in Tahrir Square, but turn a blind eye to the crackdown on activists in Bahrain. We laud the change in Tunisia, but hesitate in Yemen. Libyans need our protection, while Syrians die. And over and over we tell the Palestinians to be patient and we refuse to hear the Palestinian cry for justice. Even (and this breaks my heart to say), some close to me seem to be forgetting that as stated so well by Desmond Tutu; "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."

But other lands * have sunlight too and clover * and skies are everywhere * as blue as mine


I value the freedom that is promised to me, and I believe that freedom is a responsibility. I know my freedom depends on yours. So, I will continue to work in my small way for the day when all children are free to live, love, laugh, learn, cry in peace and justice, then we will all be free. That will be an Independence Day to celebrate!

Oh hear my song * oh God of all the nations * a song of peace * for their land and for mine.

~ Finlandia (Jean Sibelius)