Saturday, 9 June 2012

Behind the wall...

Today we have spent the whole day in Palestine, visiting the Shepherds Fields and the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and then finally, a trip to Aida refugee camp.  Quite a varied programme and one that will continue to resonate in me for a while yet.  We spoke of living stones at the end of the afternoon as we were driving away from the checkpoint... The stones are we have seen and experienced have been both hewn from the ground and also human stones.  We've learnt so much about the rich fabric that it the Holy Land. Its cultures, its peoples, its history, its theology.  We have one more person to meet tonight, Abigail a friend of Fr Brian's who is an Orthodox Jew.  Then tomorrow we prepare to come home but not until we've been to Mass at St George's and then visited the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.

Apparently we're a 'lucky' group.  It certainly seemed so today as we arrived early for our Mass 'slot' at Shepherds Fields and were able to start straight away and then after lunch we virtually walked straight into the cave where the place that mark's Christ's birth is to be found.  Shepherds Fields was the most emotional moment to date for me.  We sang a modern version of O Little Town of Bethlehem - I wasn't the only one struggling to sing as the tears welled in my eyes.  We looked out and saw how much had been built in the valley since we were there two years ago.  The settlements advance inexorably. However, we learnt that the Palestrina's have taken to building new dwellings on their land, especially that land on the border, though that might not always work.  We heard yesterday about the demolition of homes at little or no notice.

We spent a lot of time and almost as much money (between us) in the Bethlehem Co-operative - they hand make beautiful goods and they are a group of Christian families who are desperately trying to make sufficient to stay in the Holy Land.  It is clear that there are fewer tourists.  This could be for a number of reasons - its getting hot, too hot for many Europeans.  The impact of the economic collapse cannot be ruled out either.  Finally, some may be put off by what is happening close by in Syria.

I will post more about the rest of the afternoon later but it was an incredible experience to meet people who are working on what they call "The Beautiful Resistance".

No comments:

Post a Comment