Findings: the Parent Circle, the gifts, and the simpler thing
Being in Israel and hearing stories from about a hundred perspectives was like picking up teeny tiny puzzle pieces. We left every morning at or before 9:00 a.m. and by the time we got back every night after 10:00, I would throw the puzzle pieces on my side table with no time to try to fit them together.
So here I am at home, jet-lagging big time, and all I can put together are big sweeping statements that won’t accurately portray the complexities of genocide, politics, parenthood, war, religion, theology of place, and heritage.
From the get-go, I knew the lesson wasn’t for me to learn if I couldn’t bring it home – into my journal, into my heart, into my love for my sons and my husband and my church. The lesson isn’t for me if I can’t bring it home to my enemies.
So for now, forgive me if I speak in generalities, like Messiah is the only answer here.
Forgive me if my love for the church, for Palestinians, and for Israel aches like a hurt foot.
Forgive me in my hope makes no sense at all.
Right now I know the entire thing was a gift. When groups of women walked ahead, and I lagged behind, it was a gift. When I felt like a square peg among star and moon shaped holes, it was gift.
Thanks to my small world with the Haines Boys, I am not familiar with many people I probably should be. When I didn’t know someone’s last name and so didn’t know who she was, I didn’t approach her as a fan (though I guess I would have had I known). Instead, it was gift of gentle sisterhood.
When someone patiently explained her theology to me because I needed it decoded, it was a gift that helped me love. The friendship of strong women is something I never expected to have at all, so I hold in the palm of my hand, fingers outstretched. I have no grip and call the conversations, embraces, intensities, and laughs absolutely nothing but rarest hints of glory. I looked in my palm and saw the gift of friendships like this in my real life. Longing for old friends – that, too, was gift.
The friendships I witnessed between strong women were powerful markers for me.
When women stood together in front of us as dear friends but introduced themselves as past enemies, it was a searing concept I had never seen like that with my eyes. So many sensual experiences gave me ground for the imaginings of my heart. The wall, the land, the wailing, the synagogue, and the jam, it all gave me a backdrop for my faith that I didn’t know was missing.
Much of our time was all go-go-go, and if we were sitting, we were hearing stories, or I mean, we were drinking from a fire hydrant. So when we got the opportunity to go into a kitchen with Israeli and Palestinian women who had found common ground and made peace through the shared experience and pain of losing a child, something happened that superseded the realm of language.
They are called The Parent Circle, and in the kitchen, they had on their bossy skirts. We made big vats of jam with them, and I seriously couldn’t understand a word they were saying, though they never stopped trying to explain things for even a minute. We managed to make some good jam, and we managed to laugh. I had been so talked-out that when I got the chance to do dishes, it wasn’t even righteous work. It was selfish. One woman stood behind me while I washed, and she petted my back and fixed my shawl. She didn’t say a word.
Sometimes it feels good to not have to know much, only that you love the people you’re with – only that you pray like a begging that the love is transforming the ones involved.
It feels good to scoop up the strawberry jam and to ogle at it, thinking: oh man, I love strawberries. I know that I was changed by a simpler, holy thing that day.
It may take me a while to tell you about the trip as a whole. The puzzle is still in the bottom of my backpack.
Check out The Parent Circle, and think about how crazy it is.
Have a great weekend, and you’re welcome.