Jerusalem, January 7,2014. Its been several weeks since up to 60 people from Israel, Palestine, the US, Europe and Asia gathered together for four days in Beit Jalla, Palestine, to learn, grow, connect and encounter ourselves and each other within the learning community of Nonviolent Communication-based Convergent Facilitation.
Sharing the Bounty of the Land and Shabbat Blessings
Some highlights for me: As I sit here on another cold day in the Old City of Jerusalem, I recall the magical refilling of the coffee and tea table with piles of fresh mint, sage, ginger, lemons…lovingly offered several times a day by Esad from Idna in the Hebron Hills. I feel warming chills now, remembering the Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat, that began when a few of us quietly sat and lit candles and hummed nigunim, the hauntingly beautiful old melodies from the heart of Jewish tradition. When I opened my eyes after meditating on the candles and the melodies, the room was literally filled with Moslem, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and other friends, all sitting together, just sitting together. And then we each turned and faced the person sitting next to us and asked them what they wanted as a blessing for the week. And each of us was blessed with what we asked for.
A community, a world, where we receive the blessings we ask for.
Sharing our Gratitude
After more singing and dancing together, we sat together in a larger and larger circle, each sharing our gratitude I feel tears now, recalling the emotion- filled words of one religious Jewish man, tears filling his eyes, emotion in his voice, as he shared that he has been observing shabbat for over 35 years, and this was his first one with people who weren’t only Jewish, and this was his first time on the other side of the Wall, and that he was filled with gratitude for the most wonderful shabbat of his life, a shabbat where he felt he was with his whole family, his human family.
And I am again so deeply touched by the expression of gratitude from a Palestinian friend, raised in a Moslem family, saying he isn’t a religious man, and that he felt such gratitude to find and experience, through religious practice, through Jewish religious practice, a way to connect, to touch the qualities he values of community and openness and love deeply in himself.
Recalling this now, i am filled with gratitude, and awe, for two young Palestinian friends who return to the shabbat celebrations at our NVC trainings, again and again, with joy and connection, young men who were imprisoned in Israeli military prisons during their teen years, and have figured out how to fill their hearts with life-embracing energy. And for the Jews who welcome them into our shabbat, not allowing fear or shame to close their hearts.
A highlight of the four-day workshop for me was on the last day, after Miki Kashtan had led us for three days through exercises and trainings in Convergent Facilitation. On the last day, Miki asked the group for a real life organizational decision we could use to model the process. I asked if we could work with a decision of the training team for the upcoming 9 day NVC training in the Dead Sea region. We agreed, and began the process.
The decision we worked with is about the program for the 9 day experience and community of learning- do we focus on individual skills building, personal transformation or the encounter between Israelis, Palestinians and others. How do we create a program that also offers NVC skills building for people who are new to NVC, people already familiar with NVC and people on the track of becoming NVC trainers.
As the group began the process ( more in another blog), I realized that everyone speaking and sharing passionately about the needs, hopes and dreams for the upcoming 9 day NVC at EcoMe in the Dead Sea region are among the actual participants in the ongoing NVC trainings there. Now we, as a community, have a new tool to use, and were using, as we create a program and make decisions that include everyone and everyone’s dreams and needs for the next training we will do together in a few months.
I celebrate the courage of people to come together- courage because there is fear, and there is also the amazing human capacity to not be paralyzed by our fear.
I celebrate the yearning for connection and freedom that brings people to a hotel on the edge of Beit Jalla, the first Palestinian hotel, to explore together the depths of our humanness.
And I celebrate and bow in gratitude to the countless people and resources that made this event possible, and that are coming together to support a growing movement for human liberation.