Thursday, June 24, 2010

`The Light shines in the darkness,' writes Chris Cown

I have become acquainted with Chris Cowan, a seminary student and member of the Third Order of the Society of St. Francis. Chris recently spent some weeks teaching art at Dar al-Kalima in Bethlehem.

She wrote a terrific piece that makes up most of the spring edition of The Franciscan Times -

Please read the whole article. If the link above doesn't work for you, go to the archives and click the link to the Spring 2010 issue -

Here is a little clip I especially like:
“`The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.' I got a little teary, for this is the text which is needed here and which the Church here proclaims and lives. Ministries like Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, the EAPPI volunteers in the West Bank, and many others are working to move their society toward the Light shining in the darkness. It is a long and uphill road."

Chris's article provides lots of introductions to the people of the region, good analysis and review of the situation in the West Bank, and plenty of helpful links.

Here is another sample:
Many young people have little optimism about their future in West Bank, where there are shortages of water and opportunity and employment and health care. It is a place where, daily, the people experience the oppression of occupation. For every wish, there is a corresponding “You can’t do that because…” and usually the sentence can be completed by the phrase, “you are a Palestinian” or “you are an Arab.” Because you are a Palestinian… you can’t go to Jerusalem…you can’t cross the road to check your olive trees… you can’t pass the checkpoint… you can’t have a playground… you can’t bring your produce to market… you can’t finish college… you can’t find a job… you can’t go to school…you can’t leave the house… you can’t be trusted. The Palestinian people live under a system of institutionalized denigration, humiliation, segregation, and violence. It is a system that has become “business as usual.”

And yet, in this place, I received hospitality that puts our best welcome to shame. I found people who were amazingly generous, even to strangers. I found people who found a way to go on living and hoping and dreaming and working for the good of others, even though they were living behind the apartheid wall. I found people with ready smiles even in the midst of tears of frustration. I found people with faith in the midst of turmoil. I found people committed to peace in the midst of daily challenges to their dignity and their livelihood. And I found a church that intentionally nourishes hope in the promises of a God who loves all people.

The situation in the West Bank is one of dehumanization. As Franciscans and people of peace, we can say that the injustice being done against the Palestinian people dehumanizes both Palestinians and Israelis. It dehumanizes the Palestinians who, living behind the separation barrier (Apartheid Wall), continually suffer obstacles as they seek to live out their human lives, their vocations and relationships. The Wall creates violence and all sorts of poverty. But the perpetrators also suffer dehumanization, because they are led to believe that some people are of less value than others, and to fear their neighbors on the basis of race. Moreover, fear is self-perpetuating, and is ultimately the father of violence.

Chris has a blog, from pen and paintbrush, at this link -

For more about Dar al-Kalima, click this link -

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