The Gaze and the Vigil

apple treeIt is more than a month since the three boys were captured in Israel.
It is more than a month of waking up every day to hear that the nightmare is not over.
More than a month of fantasizing that Israelis and Palestinians will not continue to play out the futile and feudal warfare of the big powers, playing into the hands of the worst extremists.
Believing that one can annihilate the other when we all know neither side is going to give up their right to exist in and on that land.
Where will it end? No one knows, but it is clear that this is not an incursion like any other before.
It is a total game changer.
We all know why.

Deep in our hearts and souls we know that what happens now will be remembered by both sides forever.
The wounding, the hurt, the anger, the hatred and the solidarity of the tribal connections will be engraved in the hearts and brains of all the parties all over the world. It will be reinforcing the trauma of the Second World War.
Our neuro pathways are conditioned to trauma.

So why am I writing another piece?
I am not a professional writer,
but I am a wandering Jew. I had five weeks in Israel when all this started and now am in Ireland where people say if we can do it, they can do it. After all, we hated one another.
I want to believe that.
I want to believe that my German friends can make Shabbat with me because we believe in looking into each other’s eyes.
No, I am not having a gun held to my head.
No one wants to kill me.
But nevertheless I am a Jew and have been told as long as I can remember that the non-Jews want to get rid of us, so beware!

I was raised on the fear of anti-Semitism.
And today I have two children.

One works for the end of the occupation through non-violent means. The other believes that redemption is on the other side of this war. That once and for all, Israel will end safe from its enemies.
We brought up these children in NYC And they grew up hearing that Israelis are our brothers and sisters.
Where do I stand today as both my children call to tell me how they are faring daily with the war in the back drop?

When I went to Israel recently my son was so disappointed that I was not ready to give up my U.S. passport for an Israeli passport.
He was so furious that I could not see that being a wandering Jew was weakening my body and making it difficult for me to age without more stress on my body.
I kept saying over and over,

I am not an Israeli.
I do not know the language well enough, I am scared of the roads, and I am too sensitive–but really, is that why I am not picking up and starting over at age 64 in Jerusalem or Safed?
No. Actually I am not living there because at this moment in time I cannot hold the vision of what I believe in a country that is continually bombarded by choices that seem untenable to me.

It feels like the life-support machine called the IDF–Israel Defense Forces–is having consequences that I cannot stand behind.
I cannot sit in the comfort of my life knowing what it is costing to the whole nation and to the whole of the Jewish people all over the world. The violence that comes with power allows people to make bad choices. To believe that might is right. To believe that whoever has more guns wins. That is now what I know as a woman waking every day to feel the pain of all the mothers whose children are dying, and for what?????
As an American, I know that we are also making choices that are untenable.
I know that.
But on a local level I can have a little more control.
I can work in my private ways to help individuals wake up to the inner story of their hearts and bodies.

We are all making choices now that are very hard.
And yet I believe in the gaze.
I believe we need to be able to look into one another’s eyes.
We need to not be ashamed
We need to know we did our best
We need to believe in what we do and say
We need to be honest and real

It is my choice.
I do not know where this will end.
I know I have to look in my own eyes every day and ask myself,
Am I doing the best I can do right now in this moment to be
Courageous and simple.
If my grandsons ask me

Where were you, Safta, when this was happening?
What can I say to them?

That is what is guiding me right now.
I will not answer that now but will continue to use that question to guide me.
I am not going to give up the vision of the eagle and the condor*
I believe this is the dying of the old way
Of domination, colonization, power over not power with

I have to believe that, or I cannot wake up every day and breathe in life.

image from Amy Livingstone of

image from Amy Livingstone of

*The eagle and the condor myth says when the northern hemisphere people meet the ways of the southern hemisphere people there will be a more aligned balance of the energies of the masculine and the feminine

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