“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today." (Matthew 6:25-34)
A friend of mine is currently hiking the Camino de Santiago and recently wrote about the sadness she felt saying goodbye to friends who she had only met days earlier but had hiked with them and lived with them during that time.
I remember that feeling during my own camino in 2009; an acute understanding of the impermanence of life. There are people on that trip who have become almost mythical in my remembrance of them and there are others who I still occasionally hear from through Facebook.
In 2011, when I was traveling through Palestine, I spent time in Jenin, a city on the northern border of the West Bank and Israel. Jenin was the city from which many suicide bombers came during the second Intifada 2000-2003. In the refugee camp just outside of the city limits, there is a community theatre now. The Freedom Theatre "is developing a vibrant and creative artistic community in the northern part of the West Bank. While emphasizing professionalism and innovation, the aim of the theatre is also to empower youth and women in the community and to explore the potential of arts as an important catalyst for social change."
The theatre was started by Arna Mer Khamis, an Israeli Jew who felt called to work with Palestinian youth affected by the Occupation; offering an alternative way to have voice and to work through trauma. The threatre was directed, after Arna's death by her son Juliano. I met Juliano briefly in January of 2011 at an opening of the theatre's rendition of Alice in Wonderland.
In this musical, Alice, a Palestinian woman facing an arranged marriage runs away to Wonderland. The animals of wonderland are convinced that Alice's engagement ring has the power to free them from the oppression of the Red Queen. Alice works with the animals to show them that the only power is that which is in themselves and through working together they can free themselves from the Red Queen's treachery. The musical ends with Alice freeing herself from the arranged marriage and choosing her own life. It is a story of empowerment.
Three months after I met Juliano in that brief moment and after I was captivated by the work of the theatre and their approach regarding trauma healing and empowerment, I read in the news online that Juliano had been shot and killed. The killer was unknown and both the Palestinians and the Israelis close to Juliano pointed fingers at each other. While there had been plenty of people whom I had cross paths with once in life and probably will never again, this was the first time when that possibility of return was severed. Since then there have been others; killed or imprisoned, who I met while they were alive and free. I don't think anymore that the people I meet on my travels I will see again--travel holds a different kind of reverence now.
Impermanence. As I look at my life and feel surrounded by plans and projects; I'm getting married in June--looking at my life 5, 10, 20 years from now. I am reminded of the presence of impermanence all around me. In some ways being aware of impermanence is in itself a kind of ministry.
I pray that I remember to find meaning in the moments before me and the moments behind me. I pray that I may discover gratefulness and grace--kindness and compassion in each of these possibilities for impermanence. For as Jesus said "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today." That it is dear friends. Good night until another today begins.