I went to Beit Lahim (Bethlehem) today. I spent a good chunk of the day with an elderly refugee restaurant owner. I ate, he talked. I listened, he poured tea. I asked for the bill, he refused my money. And so these stories go, here.
I saw the Church of the Nativity and wandered the Old City. Perhaps I will talk about this in another post, but for now, for today, it was really the road to and from Beit Lahim that was most significant.
Nothing I saw was surprising or jarring in the purely factual sense of what I saw. It was not as if I did not have previous knowledge of the expanse of the wall, the amount of settlements, the confiscated land and ruined olive tree groves, or the economic exploitation of a labor force. It was not even as if I had not seen the images in films or photographs.
But, as we passed the remnants of the groves – hundreds of perfectly lined olive tree trunks, dozens of settlements on tops of hills, a never-ending wall, and shacks of workers living next to an Israeli factory – I simply couldn’t help but be jarred. Not for the content of what I already knew existed, but for the reality of being in the place where it was happening. At least, that’s the closest to describing it as I can come…
On a different note, the past week or so has also been full of self-reflection.
I am beginning to find that many of my flaws are cloaked in my strengths. They deceive me regularly.
Two examples –
I hate to dwell on things.
But that is just what I will do if someone won’t say their piece. I hate silence (at least the intentional kind between two people). I hate to wonder the reasons why. I prefer communication. I prefer to air issues out or even simply to know that there is nothing more occurring than my oversensitive imagination could assume. This can be a good thing… or, it can mean that I don’t know when to step back. The very fact that I hate to dwell, that I need to so desperately and so quickly move on from potential problems means that sometimes I can breed problems where they don’t exist. Or sometimes, I just force myself to hear something before I’m ready.
I am extremely loyal.
If you are my friend, I will most likely do close to anything for you and stand by you through close to about anything, as well. I don’t help or stand by friends because I expect them to do the same or because I want to get in to their good graces or because I’m a saint. Let me be clear, I don’t have any sort of delusion of myself as a saint – Lord knows. I do it because I get a selfish satisfaction out of seeing people I love happy. Even if the acts sometimes outweigh that selfish portion, it is based in a satisfaction of knowing that as individuals, we have the ability to make each other happy and make each others’ lives easier, even in the most minute ways – and I get pleasure in using that ability. It makes me feel useful. Again, this can be good thing…or, it can mean it takes me far too long to recognize how easy it is for someone to do something to me that I would never be able to do to them.
I am on the cusp of finishing a creative piece I have been thinking about for a long time and really love. I didn’t touch it for a few months and then picked it back up this week. It is actually done now, but I can’t get myself to put it out in to the world yet…
Thesis News: Thanks to a lovely new friend, Hiba, I will be having (inshallah) my first 3 focus groups for my research next week. 🙂