TAKING ROADS LESS TRAVELLED AND RARELY SEEN!
The shepherds have been an important part of the birth of Jesus story, but this BBC piece shows how difficult it is to be a shepherd near Bethlehem these days.
It is only a 4 minute interview.
If Carlos the 74 year old father or Jamil his young 20 year old son, needs any help keeping the tradition going….part of me would want to go to Bethlehem and help look after the sheep.
I was out several days with the shepherds in the South Hebron Hills, I know it is a hard life, and would be too much for me.
Momentmal bin ich plötzlich etwas mehr Deutsch geworden?
I have just returned from 2 days off in Bethlehem, only my 2nd real exploration of this rapidly expanding yet fascinating city. I love the place! However to avoid all the tourist traps, I told them I was from Germany, and wasn’t hot on English… and then bumped (no kidding) into the Major of Cologne and his entourage. They had to rush off as leaving for Tel Aviv in the hope of a flight back to Frankfurt (Cologne & Bethlehem are twinned cities).
I stayed in The Grand Hotel just up from the German Lutheran Church, a great place, proper showers, good beds, well maintained with a TV that works, lovely restaurant and with a CPT discount. I watched a Christmas edition of “Wilsberg” on German ZDF and laughed a little whilst drinking a Loewenbrau beer from Bavaria, then watched the news and saw the snow & weather chaos across Europe.
Yesterday, as I was roaming the back streets, I saw & heard the Syrian Orthodox Scout troop practising their marching (with 10 bagpipers), it took me back in time and I suddenly felt strangely homesick and emotional. They were very good, and brought a tear to my eye, but then I am part Celt. Whilst this throwback to the colonial times of the 1920- 1940’s probably jars some peoples senses, I felt strangely happy after my worst week on team so far.
I also bought myself a olive wood Catholic rosary, which I have been carrying with me and much like Catholics & Muslims, I have been reciting prayers and thoughts on Gods many characteristics. Yes, I have absorbed a certain ritual, something we Quakers don’t do apparently. As I sat in the Service (shared taxi) back to Yatta with my rosary, the devoutly Muslim next to me gave me such a wonderful smile. We prayed together, as cousins in faith, in different languages & styles. I wished I spoke fluent Arabic at that point.
However, yesterday as I sat in a Franciscan Church desperately looking for some peace & quiet, I felt the urgent need to re-connect with my maker and listen to that quiet inner voice the one that guides and sustains me in this difficult work.
I didn’t find the peace & quiet, I am still off balance, spinning off centre after what I have seen this week has made me angry. I sit here alone in the draughty CPT “house” still physically exhausted… I am looking forward to coming home, this utterly cruel and nasty occupation is starting to get to me. I cried briefly last night instead of trying to sleep.
As I sit here, and contemplate the recent past, I know my presence has made a positive difference, but at what cost to my sanity.
Please hold us in your hearts, and pray that the oppressors see the error of their ways as they (knowingly??) repeat the history of the 1930’s by trying to create a bigger & purer land for the Jewish people using propaganda & fear. Let us hope that the horrors 1940’s are not repeated here. Let us hope that the Jewish authorities see the error of their ways, have they not learnt from their history… the current state of Israel risked being destroyed and its people thrown back into exile!