With gratitude

Well, I taught my last class here.  At least, for this trip.  I keep hearing, “Are you coming back?”  Inshallah, is all I can say.  Yes, I want to come back, as God wills.  It’s a matter for prayer.

tree growing through a concrete wall at Aida Camp

tree growing through a concrete wall at Aida Camp

My apartment is rapidly getting less cluttered as more and more mementos are stored for transport.  I’m really tired.  Bethlehem is a city of hills and I am accustomed to a flat place.  There have been a lot of challenges here, mentally, physically, spiritually, but I have received countless blessings and I am full of amazement and gratitude to God for the gift of this trip.

Many of the students have made rapid progress.  It’s been exciting to watch them.  It’s a longer road for some than for others, but almost everyone is making a great effort.

Now it’s time for me to make a great effort and drag my sorry backside halfway around the world.  And after that, it’s integration time: papers to write, sermons to offer, talks to give, and the mighty work of seeking God’s will for the future. For 2 years I’ve worked for this event.  What is on the other side, I have had no glimpse of. As usual, God keeps the blueprints to Godself.

“I woke up in the middle of the night to see soldiers around my bed,” a friend says to me. “Go to sleep,” they told her.  Then they took one of her family members away.  A student near here was taken away this week and deported to Gaza, a student who needs only 2 months to complete her bachelor’s degree, but now it will be difficult for her to graduate. We heard fighter jets and explosions near here last week. Children hear of Gaza and suffer pain; they have relatives there.  It is only an hour’s drive from here. Yes, there is pain here, deep and abiding memory of injustice past and present. Yet I have seen love here.  Humor here. Forgiveness here.  Belief that life is worth living abundantly.  There are prayers for peace here still. There is hope here in the midst of the sadness and anxiety and hopelessness of occupation. Let’s nurture it. My last image for this blog from Palestine: the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Let the light stream in.

God bless and see u on the other side,

Chris

Dome above the tomb of Christ

Dome above the tomb of Christ

2 thoughts on “With gratitude

  1. Gratitude, yes. And perhaps righteous anger, too? I hope that we can help you find ways to share your experiences when you have had a chance to integrate them a bit. Or even if you haven’t, because it might be a way to help you do so!

    Travelling mercies!
    Mary

    • Thanks, Mary. Yes, plenty of anger also. Some loss also, as I have made friends here…many of whom will keep up with me by facebook, and some of whom want to send me pictures for continued critiques…we’ll have to see how that can help what with the language barrier.

      I’m in Chicago, 3 hr layover and then home. Nice to be through my last of something like 7 security and passport checks in the past 24 hrs. In my opinion, once you pass in Tel Aviv you should be good for life. Both my bags were searched and I was questioned because I had with me a book at the bottom of my suitcase about refugees and a catalog of the works of a famous artist here who is Palestinian. The fact that I met him and he is Palestinian was enough to raise questions.

      Blessings, let’s talk in a few days when I’m more fully awake. I’m debriefing with Guillermo Friday, I don’t remember the time. Chris

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