prayers for Palestine

last night, i went to a rally/vigil at the white house convened to draw attention to the latest developments in Gaza.  a friend told me about the IDF's twitter and tumblr pages, and i was horrified.* 

what does waging a "real-time" war solve, or prove?  how does that honor the soldiers, or the innocents that continue to suffer as "collateral damage" in these conflicts?  yes, the Palestinians have rockets.  but Israel has rockets, tanks, helicopters, fighter planes, soldiers...   

it was the typical scene: a group of pro-Palestinian folks on one side, a small, portable fence in front of them, police, then pro-Israel folks on the other side of the police line, closest to the white house.  there were chants from both sides, with the pro-Israel group incorporating singing and circle dancing. 

eventually, someone handed out candles.  an organizer said to gather in a circle and turn our backs to the pro-Israel group so as not to engage them.  that worked for awhile...then the chanting began again.

at one point they asked anyone who had a candle to move to the front, near the fence.  there were a few moments of silence to recognize those lost...then the shouts began again. 

i actually went with the intent to pray, not shout.  the whole time, i scanned both groups, trying to get a feel for what was happening beneath the surface.

reunions of friends and colleagues.
the need to be "right" overriding the reality of human suffering.
expressions of affection.
navel gazing.
tension between well-meaning whitefolks and embedded, invested folks of color.
elation when a lone drummer began punctuating the pro-Palestine chants.   

i noticed my candle and several others were particularly luminous: clearly marked halos surrounding the flames, accented by evenly spaced rays of light.  a sign of comfort, compassion, grace; the light of the Mother's presence. 

as my candle burned out, i moved back to the outskirts of the crowd.  the pro-Israel group took their leave, evoking a cheer from the pro-Palestinian folks.  when the police removed the barrier, they took over the sidewalk nearer the white house.

as i moved back, i noticed a young brother sitting on the ground, dressed mostly in khaki and wrapped in a keffiyeh.  something told me to stand next to him.  when he looked up, i asked if he was all right.

"yes. i'm just praying."

i nodded.

after a moment, i blessed some water, poured a libation and sat a few feet to his left to continue the prayers i'd started at the fence:

  • for the mothers of the lost children.
  • for souls to reach the Light.
  • for the power to act from courage and love, not reactionary fear or anger. 
  • for the space to grieve, and for that grief to be honored. 
  • for those who could not freely shout as we did here.
  • for the understanding that true protection doesn't have to mean denying life to someone else--especially those who are not directly engaged in battle. 
  • for our love and our voices to reach those under siege, right at that moment, and in the days to come.
  • for the young Jewish man who shouted, "you are not upholding the Torah."
  • for the Palestinian / Middle Eastern women present...in hijab and unveiled, the children they brought. i knew that they, especially, held space for those who could not speak or witness for themselves. 
  • for all those fighting for freedom and self determination around the world.
  • for everyone present to reach home safely. 
  • for the energy of the Mother / Divine Feminine to cover us.  to help us see that we are all human beings, under the same sun, seeking food, warmth, and life just like everything else...and understanding the deep affront that occurs when any of us willfully denies another those basic, human needs.
after awhile, i heard the brother say, "i don't know if they're listening, but i figured i'd pray anyway."

before i could catch myself, i blurted out, "they always listen, honey."  immediately i knew that had come through me, not from me.

then, he surprised me.  "thank you for praying with me. you have a very calming energy."

i smiled.  "it's what i do."  i extended my hand, which seemed to be my surprise to him.  "take care," i said.  he shook it.  i noticed his eyes were a translucent brown...a little sad, but very kind.  and crystal clear. he was still sitting on the ground when i left.

as i walked away--suddenly aware that i was freezing--a perfect little leaf blew down from a tree and landed directly in my path.  so directly, in fact, that i stopped to pick it up.

in that moment, i remembered the Ancestors' connection to the white house and the land around it.

they always listen.  

*i'm not linking to the pages because i don't want to give them any more traffic.  they can easily be googled if you're interested.  the IDF's tone is horrifying--it's as if they're simply playing a video game where stuff gets blown up.  that staggering level of arrogance dishonors their forces in harm's way and those fighting and dying on the other side.