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Facing the Dark


I suggest reading the following explanation before clicking the video link above. The hymn tune accompanying the video is by Thomas Tallis. I wrote the words and created the music on my computer.

To make you true, O God of love. We long to see your face, to know your will, to know you care that we are filled with fear. How can we know that you are here? How can we know you care? When earth is just a speck of dust adrift in endless space.


To make you true, O God of grace. We long to hear your word, to know you hear the prayers we pray, to know life's not absurd. How can we know that you are real? How can we trust in you? When death is sure for all that lives. Did it take your life, too?


To make you true, O God of light. We long to see the way, to live with hope, to live with love, to face our death with faith. So, we will live what we can't know, to make your love be true. We will not let you leave us here to face the dark alone.


A “truer” way to live, I suggest, is to “live what we can’t know,” to make the love of Abba, God of Jesus, God of the cosmos, God of Light and Love, God of grace, true in our lives and in our time.” Yes, this means we are making God true. Or truer. Every day. For ourselves and also for others.


I took the photos in the video in 2005 when I was living in the Old City of Jerusalem. I was a volunteer for the World Council of Churches in the “Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel.” I accompanied Palestinian students to school in Hebron where Israeli Jewish students had called them names or thrown stones at them. The photo of two girls was taken at a Palestinian elementary school in Hebron. The woman in green was the principal of the school.


In 2005 there were places where I and other “internationals” climbed over the wall separating Israeli and Palestinian neighborhoods. At times, however, Israeli soldiers stopped us from visiting Palestinians on the other side.


Jewish Israelis in Jerusalem live next to the Dome on the Rock, sacred to Muslims. The photo of a drawing of “The Third Temple” was displayed on the street in the Jewish sector of the Old City. The supporting arc of a partially destroyed synagogue has been preserved in the Old City as a reminder of the battle Jews fought to regain control of the city.


The Jewish Israeli women holding black signs with white Hebrew words were demonstrating in Jerusalem for peace with Palestinians. The man with a red hat and uniform was a member of the Muslim family who lock and unlock the doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City. The Christian churches claiming a portion of this ancient church could not agree on which one of them should control access, so they chose a reliable Muslim family that continues to provide this service.


I accompanied Israeli Jews who traveled into Palestinian areas to be present when farmers were working in their fields or caring for their olive trees. The photo showing two men with rifles was taken in the Hebron Hills. A farmer had asked Rabbis for Human Rights to provide protection from nearby Israeli settlers who had previously prevented him from farming his land. The leader of Rabbis for Human Rights had contacted the Army base about the problem, but when he and I and a few Jewish Israelis arrived the settlers had already entered the field. The rabbi called the Army commander, and soon several soldiers showed up. A second photo shows another settler with his rifle blocking the Palestinian farmer on his tractor. The photo of two Palestinian women was taken in a tiny store in the nearby Palestinian village.

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The settlers claimed the farmer did not own the land, and so the soldier in command cancelled plowing for the day to “keep the peace.” After taking the photo of the rabbi talking with the head of the Palestinian village, we were invited to his home for tea.

The final photo in the video shows a Palestinian woman in an olive grove on her land in the West Bank. She, too, had asked Rabbis for Human Rights to protect her from nearby settlers. Rabbis for Human Rights had contacted the Army and then sent a group to be present as the women and her helpers pruned her trees.

Israeli Jewish settlers did not enter the women’s olive grove, and after pruning the landowner provided all of us with lunch that we ate together in the shade of the trees.

Sometimes an eco-choice requires defending the right of landowners to cultivate their farmland or care for their trees, when powerful interests ignore the law and try to take control of the land. This is especially so when landowners have a moral right to their land as well as a legal right.

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