From Kate Ralls
“Hello? Are you awake? Did I tell you I love you?” This is the daily greeting we receive from our wonderful guide, Iyad. It’s 7 a.m., we are on the bus, all a bit tired. To hear these words warms my heart and puts a smile on my sleepy face. It’s a good reminder that you can never tell people you love them enough, even a group of New Yorkers you hardly know. 🙂
We are leaving Nazareth, making our way back to Jerusalem. We crossed the checkpoint/border back into the West Bank. This particular checkpoint is open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. With Omar (our driver) and Iyad, we rolled through at 8 a.m. sharp!
What was so eye opening where the number of Palestinians lined up for work. These particular individuals had received permits to cross the border for work—they might be considered some of the lucky ones, doing what they need to do for survival. You can’t help but ask yourself…”who are you? And what is your story?” I SEE you. Out of curiosity and a sense of responsibility, the questions start to flow. The more questions asked, the more complicated it gets. This blog isn’t about politics, which is certainly not my expertise, but more about humanity and peace. It’s about asking the questions and educating myself and not looking the other way. This Pilgrimage creates a safe place for discovery. To practice our faith in the Holy Land where Jesus was. To go back in time, while looking at reality now… to look in the mirror and say, “how can I help?” How can I create peace within me and outside of me.
We arrived at the village of Burqin. This is where Jesus heard the cries of the 10 lepers who were quarantined to a cave. The stunning Byzantine church we visited remembers these lepers through icons and the actual cave where this took place. We prayed and referenced this Biblical scripture. That’s one of the things I love about this trip-referencing the Biblical verses of the land we are visiting. Honestly, I can’t help but think of today’s Palestinian’s.
We learned more about this when we took a visit to the Taybeh brewery. Yes, we did a beer tasting on a Pilgrimage. 🙂 It’s a challenge to run a Palestinian brewery in a mostly Muslim neighborhood, under the occupation. So what does that mean? For example, they have limited access to water, they pay taxes on import/export (within Israel and elsewhere), no access to a seaport, or the airport (under Israeli authority)…and many more obstacles.
The trust in the Lord is felt in this small village. Their faith is uplifting and inspiring. I am inspired in my own home life to keep Jesus at the forefront of everything and To teach my young daughters the same. Praying for peace is essential.
The picture: Christian ruins in Taybeh from the Byzantine time. The blood you see at the door is from a sacrifice that was made to give thanks for a healing, blessing, etc. The meat from the sacrifice is then shared with the food insecure communities.