Sunday, September 29, 2013

Binding the Wounds

"Love is not a vague feeling or an abstract idea. When I love someone, I seek what is best for them. If I begin to take the love of Christ seriously, then I will work toward what is best for my neighbor. I will seek to bind up the wounds and bring about healing, no matter what the cost may be." -Billy Graham 

Shortly before I came here, a friend told be she hoped I could bring some healing here.  Her comment made me very uneasy, mostly because I felt wholly inadequate for such a task.

I still feel wholly inadequate for such a task.

Israeli military during clashes
How does one bring healing to a place that has been broken and broken and broken and broken, that keeps getting broken down even more?

Off to the side of one of the hot spots for clashes, there are a couple of stone planters.  They don't actually have plants in them, just dirt, maybe some trash.  We've sat on them on several occasions while monitoring the clashes.  A couple of days ago as we were monitoring clashes again in the area, we noticed that we would no longer be able to sit on one of the planters.  It's missing two corners.  Our assumption is that stone throwers smashed off the corners to throw.

We've seen many a tire burn. Glass bottles broken.  Destruction.

By morning, or sometimes just hours after the clashes, the streets are always cleared of the rocks, the ashes, the broken glass of the young Palestinian men and boys. The streets are cleared of the tear gas canisters, sound bombs, rubber-coated steel bullets of the young Israeli men - the soldiers and border policemen.

Does the absence of the remnants in the street bind the wounds of the previous day?

What about the planter?  It can't be put back together.What about the buildings we pass that were partially destroyed years ago to create an access road to a nearby Israeli settlement? What about the olive trees of our friend, standing blackened and burned, dead?

Do these half-destroyed remnants keep wounds open and festering?

Rubber bullet wounds.  Live ammunition wounds. Broken limbs. These physical wounds can be tended, but they still leave their mark on bodies.  Do the men and boys see them as marks of pride or as permanent reminders of the pain of living here?

On Friday a man involved in the clashes was hit in the forehead with a rubber-coated steel bullet.  He was taken to the hospital, but came back to the clashes hours later, bandage on his head, gleefully waving the x-ray of his skull for all to see. On another day, a young man showed me one of his fingers; the top half of it is missing from an injury in previous clashes.  If such wounds are marks of pride, how does one bring healing to someone who sees himself as a proud warrior?  So proud that he may not even see the woundedness that compels him?  Is it even my place to try to do so?

If these injuries leave permanent reminders of the pain of living here, how does one bring healing?

A few weeks ago, I was feeling angry.  It was a combination of feeling voiceless in a few areas of my life, of being really tired, of feeling the weight of being here.  Thankfully, my voice was soon heard and I got some sleep.  I was able to let go of at least some of what ailed me. I felt the healing balm of friendship and rest.
Post-clashes street

But here... when will the voiceless be heard? Where is respite from the constant weight of living under Occupation? I don't have answers.

Perhaps it is presumptuous to think that I would have any answers. Because I don't have answers, I don't know how I can possibly bring healing.

As with many of my posts from here, I feel discombobulated trying to find words.  I can only raise questions and hope that somehow the answers will come.  I wonder if I've learned anything while I've been here, if my own perceptions have merit or if they constitute a horribly skewed and narrow version of what's going on.  The longer I'm here, the more I see that the same story is told and re-told in so many different ways; sometimes it is hard to know what is fact and what is myth.

How can I bind wounds?  I will keep listening and watching. I will offer smiles and my few words of Arabic. I will accept tea and offer gratitude in return. I will pray and pray and pray. This is all I know how to do.  I have no idea if my simple acts, my listening and watching, smiles, gratitude, and prayers are a salve or an irritant.  When I can, I will amplify the voices I hear, the stories I am learning.  And I will hope that somehow this is love and that it is enough.

"As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is the resetting of a Body of broken bones. Even saints cannot live with saints on this earth without some anguish, without some pain at the differences that come between them. There are two things which [people] can do about the pain of disunion with other [people]. They can love or they can hate. Hatred recoils from the sacrifice and the sorrow that are the price of this resetting of bones. It refuses the pain of reunion. But love by the acceptance of the pain of reunion, begins to heal all wounds." 
- Thomas Merton


  1. I miss you. You are awesome and you are good and whatever you do in love brings goodness. Keep on truckin' . Who you are, what you do, no matter how small makes a difference.

    1. It's your first three words that touch me the most. The rest are helpful, too. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.