The Land of Ands
They say that God is the balance of all truths. "They" are right. Especially here.
We were so fortunate to spend the morning at The Roots Garden which is home for the Roots Co-existence Project which brings together Israelis and Palestinians who, despite living next to each other, are separated by walls of fear. It's not the lushness of the land in this garden of eden that makes it fertile but rather the hope in the air, as it's the only place where both Palestinians and Israelis can meet as equals. We heard from both Palestinian and Israeli leaders within this group and every single one of us were truly blown away by them. The underlying theme of it all was the shift in thinking from "It matters where we live" to "It matters HOW we live." Quite frankly I'm not sure there are words to describe just how courageous, dedicated and visionary they are in their quest for peace. They were infectious, in the best sense of the word, and we all left changed forever.
From the Garden, we crossed over into Palestine and into Bethlehem. It was my second time visiting the Church of the Nativity and while I'm not aligned with or moved by the ideology, sometimes holding space for someone else's visit with God is just good as having you're own.
And yet, just down the road there are places where it's hard to see evidence of God anywhere. We were fortunate enough to gain access to the Aida Refugee camp for Palestinians. It is partially surrounded by the West Bank Barrier and as our guide explained "If you live here, you die here."
Exceedingly overcrowded with only two schools, no clinics, water delivered once a week and heavily patrolled by Israeli police, some residents have taken to expressing their deeply felt despair in graffiti art. One piece in particular reveals their collective sentiment...
"We Can't Live" (see video)
We are here to study the conflict. Both sides. The number of "Ands" or partial sparks of truth make it really difficult to see a way out. But what I know for sure is that the true radicals of this land are the peace keepers... the ones in the middle. The ones who can see the other's pain because they acknowledge their own.
The biggest truth of all, is what I've heard Marianne say numerous times..
"There is no spiritual or religious path that gives anyone a pass on addressing the suffering of other sentient beings."