My Interfaith Peace-Builders group and I have arrived! Admittedly, with so many months of preparation to go to Israel and Palestine the reality of in fact going came as a bit of a surprise to me as we wrapped up our orientation in DC and headed out for the airport. Then, two flights, many hours, a decent amount of sleep, and some surprisingly good meals later, I found myself in quite a different place than where I started. Once I emerged from my travel stupor, at some point along the bus ride, I noticed my heart aflutter with exeeding happiness. I have returned.
En route to our hotel in East Jerusalem, where mostly Palestinians live, we passed through many other neighborhoods where quite a mixture of people call home, including this young Jewish boy racing his little sister down the sidewalk, almost losing his kippa to the wind. It was an adorable and humorous scene to witness. Yet, sadly, the sweet sentiments did not last long for me. They were followed by an almost immediate twinge of anguish. There is a larger scenario at play between the Jewish Israelis and the Palestinians which ever threatens to eclipse such innocent, ideal childhood moments as this. Beyond the surface culture of tourism in Jerusalem and the surrounding Holy Land, is the culture of its residents. A culture largely consumed by fear, strife, and constant waves of violence, both acted out and plaguing the mind.
And, that is all I have to say for tonight. I know I am leaving you hanging, and abruptly. I know I am not wrapping this up in a nice, little bow, as I truly wish I could. But, I cannot. I leave you where I find myself, and where I wonder if many of the Palestinians and Israeli Jews also find themselves--uncomfortable, in anticipation, eager for change but not knowing how or from where it will come, yet, somehow, somehow hopeful, as I will ceaselessly endeavor to be and promote.