I think of myself as optimistic and grateful for most everything in my life. But the war in Israel feels like a weight in my heart. Perhaps because of our recent pilgrimage there, the space between war and peace seems very narrow. I think of the people we met, Christians, Jews and Muslims, who we came to know and whose stories we carried back with us.
I think of our beautiful hotel on the West Bank and the Muslim call to prayer, blaring out of a loudspeaker you could hear from our balcony each night. I think of the most gracious Palestinian owner of our hotel, Nabil, who went out for special treats for us so they were there when we got back from a day of prayer and experiencing the sites. He and his family evidenced extraordinary hospitality.
I think of Fr. Garrett, the young Jesuit priest we met, originally from Milwaukee, currently serving in Bethlehem teaching Muslim women. He lives with an 80-year-old priest in a dwelling with only basic needs. When you meet him, you can only wish for what he has, as he radiated such joy and goodness.
And I carry our guide, Nasser, in heart and mind with fondness and concern. He exemplified faith with such intelligence, kindness, strength, and compassion! I worry and wonder how this war will affect his livelihood, his family, and his new granddaughter.
So, the grateful part of me is amazed that our timing allowed us to be in the Holy Land when we were. But I am so sad for all the people who are hurt, suffering, displaced and living in this land at war. I am just so sad for our world.
I postponed writing this, hoping to find something uplifting to share. But I decided, sometimes, though we feel woeful for the world, we should remember our good God can, as Teresa of Avila said, “write straight with the crooked lines” of our humanity. Sometimes we just must pray from where we are, even if it is discouraged, sorrowful or feels heartbreaking. When our heart is heavy for whatever reason we just may need to trust God who, though we don’t understand how, can make “all things new.”