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Holy Land: Day 5 (Kathy DeSanti-Paulini)

St. George’s College is situated in East Jerusalem, in the Palestinian section of Jerusalem. It is filled with the common activities of life: working and playing, shopping and praying.

Our journey today presented sharp contrasts of life in a land divided. As we traveled from East Jerusalem to Ein Kerem in West Jerusalem, a distance of 5 miles, we transitioned from a poor, restricted Arab community to a modern, free Jewish community. We visited the beautiful Church of the Visitation which is located in the area where Mary and Elizabeth spent time together during their pregnancies. In Luke 1:46-55 we read Mary’s hymn of praise, the Magnificat, a great song of hope in God’s salvation.

Church of the Visitation, Ein Kerem

The second part of our journey is to share lunch at the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, Palestine. To get there we cross the border and slowly walk along the 20 foot high wall which is covered in graffiti that has messages of hope and protest. The Aida Refugee camp was created after the war in 1948 during which Palestinians were forcibly removed from their homes. Families have lived as refugees for three generations and still hold the keys to their homes with the hope to eventually return.

We shared lunch with the NOOR Women’s Empowerment Group, which is led by a woman named Islam (means Peace). Islam is a mother of six children and one son, Mohammad, is severely disabled. She formed the Women’s Empowerment Group to help address the needs of her son and other disabled children. The group has grown from 3 to 35 women who support 350 disabled children. She credits her son for giving her the vision and motivation to build this community. It is an oasis of hope in a community confined in their homeland. –Kathy DeSanti-Paulini

Islam, of NOOR Women’s Empowerment Group

The St. George’s Cathedral Prayer:

Gracious God, your love knows no limits. Fill our hearts with your compassion, open our eyes to your presence in the world, enlarge our minds to understand your will. Take our hands and minister through them, take our words and speak through them, and direct our feet in the paths of justice, peace, and reconciliation, that Christ may be revealed in us and the world may believe. Amen.