|Posted on July 2, 2011 at 2:55 AM|
So much seems caught on the edge of a pregnant pause. As the Gaza flotilla attempts to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza (but cannot get out the Greek harbor), as Fatah and Hamas waver at the brink of reconciliation, and as the international community wavers at the brink of recognizing a Palestinian State in September, we hold our breath waiting to see what will happen next (although we probably already know). And, as I begin to prepare to leave for Palestine in September I am not even sure how to begin.
This trip will be different from previous trips. This time I will have a 'job' and of course I will be there much longer. I have not even begun to wrap my mind around what I need to do to get ready. As I try, I am thinking back to my first trip, there were a lot of unknowns then as well. Deciding whether or not to go to Palestine for the first time, I participated in a Quaker tradition for discernment - the clearness committee. During that process one of the Friends that sat with me asked “what are you afraid of?” Without hesitation, my answer was "that I won’t want to come back".
I have said before how each time I go, the return to the States does get harder and how I have learned that it is possible to be homesick for a place where I have never lived. I have also learned that there are people that you can know all your life, after only an hour. I know it's not possible, but it is true. Chuck learned a little of this when Father's Day weekend we were invited to a picnic with a community of Palestinian - Americans living in the Lansing area - my Albassa family (they are originally from the destroyed village of Albassa in Israel). When it came time for group photos, they insisted that we were included saying, "You are family!" It is truly a blessing to be 'adopted' by Palestinians!
It is hard sometimes though, to not wonder what I have accomplished. After the last trip, I actually considered not going back at all.
Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything. ~ Thomas Merton
Through this work my life has intersected with wonderful people and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work for them;
Imad and Munira - my first Palestinian family (and my first taste of Arak [kind of like oozo, but more]). I recently heard from Imad that they have been without water for 29 days and the cistern is running dry;
Baha - focused and sweet, and VERY funny (and yes, his mother makes the best tabouli!);
Michael and Miriam - my second Palestinian family. They have just celebrated the marriage of their daughter Rojeen. Michael so patiently helped me start to learn Arabic;
Kristel - the wonderful Dutch girl who lost her heart to Palestine too;
Bana - the beautiful spirit from Beit Sahour that I did not meet until she came here;
Nimer - who drinks coffee with me while we talk politics and Palestine at Biggbys (and introduced me to my Albassa family);
Marcus(and Sue & Nabil) - my first Palestinian friend in the States (I will never believe that random chance brought me to his office) I am honored that he and Nabil trusted me to tell their stories;
Hanna - intense and full of contradictions, showed me the beauty of Galilee and he did say that March is the best time to see Galilee... (maybe, someday, I can finish the post I began to write about him);
and so many more....
I am told frequently that I am brave – I don’t know about that, but I do know that as I set out on this new adventure, I will need the strength and friendship of all of them (And I certainly could not do this without the love and support of those I leave behind).
I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got [there]. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing to be my rescue and my shelter and my home. ~ Thomas Merton (The Seven Storey Mountain)