A week on and my mind and heart are still full of a mixture of emotions around the pilgrimage – thanks for the opportunity and for the privilege of being part of the group, inspiration from the many folks we met and the members of the group itself, hope for the future in the voices of reason of the young folk, sometimes a little hopelessness at the entrenched attitudes of the extremes, and a concern that politics seem to be shaped in response to these.
The highlights for me were when we met people whose strong faith shaped the way they saw the world and their desire to change it for the better – from the gentle humour of the church leaders through the simple depths of Brother Jeremias to the commitment to the task of One Voice; from the strength of Ibtisam to the breadth of Rabbi Melchior to the courage of the Ecumenical Accompaniers. These and many more are working for the future of Israel and Palestine and for me were parts of a jigsaw of hope.
The lows were around the lack of hope expressed by so many; so often the response to our question about the future was negative and I fear for a country descending into a national depression. The wall or the barrier may offer security – and I don’t in any way condone suicide bombers – but it is a visual reminder of division and separation for Jews and Arabs alike, and my prayer would be that neither would become so accustomed to it that discussions to remove it slip from the agenda.
Coming back I have wondered what I might do – so many said that we should talk, write to our MPs, encourage others to come, and where that is possible I will, but mostly I am left with a sense that first and foremost I will hold this land before God in prayer and ask to see it with His eyes and with His compassion so that His will is done and His peace will come.
Margaret Lunan trained as a teacher after graduating at Aberdeen University, and has worked fourteen years for Christian Aid in Education. She is a member of the Church of Scotland.