Thursday, August 14, 2008

bethlehem - manger - christ's birthplace

from dec 2006

i was lucky enough to live close to Bethlehem for a few months. an evening i walked into the church in Bethlehem. walking the modern streets of this part of occupied Palestinian territory i wondered about the reality of living a few days at a site once blessed by God, that now stands surrounded by walls 8 metres tall. felt sad that pilgrimage also entails seeing occupation first hand. three great civilizations that have had their hours of glory and horror embroiled and entangled, unable to break free.

there are many levels of untangling, de-escalating, justice delivering, reconciling, peace building that one hopes for. to watch indignity first hand is a terrible thing in itself. it does not need much imagination to see psychological trauma and its effects on masses of people who live under occupation. victim/survivors turned aggressors behind walls, closely watched by many international agencies and human/group rights defenders. a good place to experience solidarity, compassion, in action.

i came to know that not everyone who goes into Palestine go there for expressing political solidarity with the Palestinian national cause.

some journeys are for nourishing our souls.

yet, the fact that it happens under occupation-condition is impossible to ignore.

the soul and mind battle it out to make sense. how does one process coming to visit a site of a great prophet's birth and feeling that one goes into a sacred space inside a walled city.

defiling of a world heritage site in the name of security is a tragedy continuously in the making.

how to respond to such a travesty? i often wondered.

no answers, just lots of grief...

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