Melissa McCreery and Tamara Wytsma by the wall dividing Israel and Gaza in Netiv Ha’Asara.
Guest Post by Melissa McCreery
I wrote the prayer below while sitting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, reflecting on a week filled with some of the most uplifting conversations and experiences, as well as some of the most devastating, that I have ever experienced. A week that seemed to flirt with the line between joy and sorrow, hope and hopelessness, compassion and contempt.
I took this journey with 25 other amazing women, led by The Telos Group. Telos is a genuinely pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-American, and pro-peace (yes, it’s possible!) nonprofit leading pilgrimages in the Holy Land, with the vision of bringing awareness to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and placing voices, thoughts, experiences and PEOPLE to the conflict…so many beautiful people. Kilns College is leading a trip with The Telos Group in November 2015. If you’re interested in attending, email us to get more information or reserve your spot.
After spending eight days in the Holy Land, I am only starting to even begin to comprehend the history, the people, the conflict and the deep emotion found there. This prayer is an honest cry to God, as I wrestled with all that I had heard, seen, witnessed & experienced.
Lord, You are here
You are here on the shores of Galilee
You are in the walls of Bethlehem
and the stones of Jerusalem
You are here in the darkness of our pain.
You are here in the lament of the widows — their husbands lost to violence, to a hatred that breaks your heart
You are here, in the eyes of an Arab child, a refugee in his own land, the only home he’s ever known a cinder block locked behind a fence
You are here, in the quiet prayers of your children
and in the loud shouts at the Western Wall
You are with the Rabbi, with the Priest and the Imam.
You are with us all
In this land of bright moons and subtle stars, of rolling hills and quiet deserts
Of calls to prayer and songs of Shabbat
You shed a tear for the deaths of innocent lives, lost to a violent act
You shed a tear for the misguided and desperate young boy who claimed those lives
You lament with us and our despair
You cry, even as we cry out to you
“God, why? Why the hatred? Why the vengeance? Why the killing of your children, of your sons and daughters?”
And through it all You are faithful and Your love endures.
You are the Prince of Peace
You give hope to those who have no reason to hope
You bring peace to a land riddled with agony and to hearts that weep
And your faithful reminders can be found everywhere…
In the beautiful green hills of the Holy Land
In the fragrant aromas wafting out of a young Israeli mother’s kitchen
and the similar smells — of cardamom and cumin and za’atar— coming from the kitchen of her Palestinian neighbor.
In the farmer, planting and re-planting his fig and olive trees in the red earth of his family’s farm.
In the warm embrace that spans generations, genders and ethnicities
You smile as we refuse to be enemies; refuse to succumb to the lies of the world
You laugh with us as we experience the smells, sights, history and people of this land; as we gain a glimpse of what you see in each of us
And then, in your still comfort and warm embrace, you speak to us
You lead us and guide us
You love us… Always always, you love.
And now so must we.