Another 24 hours, and I will be in an airport, through security (hopefully) and beginning the journey back home. I am trying to pack some small jars of sunshine in my luggage. We obviously still need it back home. Some time then to pause and reflect on this Micah68 mission and ministry trip – and I guess ‘crossing borders’ is a phrase that comes to mind. Several physical borders / checkpoints have been crossed between UK, Israel, Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Israel again – some easier than others to cross – and I still have the one back to UK to negotiate.
But I guess that is the point – crossing borders can surprise, challenge, frustrate and educate. The key borders are the ones between people – the language, food, attitudes, religion, culture. These are some of the boundary points we live by, and occasionally put up as our defence – a border that need to be approached and crossed if we are to make a proper encounter with others and not just sit within our protected, bounded zone of being. Certainly as Christian an issue I have to take seriously if I really believe in ‘sharing God’s love in word and deed’.
Last night I sat amongst old friends who I first worked with as teenagers on a youth camp back in the 1990’s. Now successful, beautiful and talented young adults we together watched, listened and enjoyed the performance of Miriam Toukan – one of their own peer group, who is achieving great success locally and nationally as a singer. (See 17th June blog for her contemporary work, and also listen to the Micah68 website music which was one of her first singles). It felt a privilege to sit with Ala’a and Mateel, watching Miriam sing songs by Fairuz (check out www.fairuzonline.com for some insight into this Lebanese Christian legendary singer) backed by the excellent Karawan Theatre and Choir – a group based in the small village of Ibillin where they all come from. I still (to my shame) don’t understand the language – but to sit with many from the village who had come to support, and be greeted by old friends – and encounter new ones (a guy from Ibillin who has lived in Preston and Southport, and is now in Salford!) was well worth the crossing.
The last song sung by Miriam was a famous one by Fairuz – ‘Bayti ana Baytak’. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzNq5fX-c5U for one of the many versions). It is a prayer offered by the poor, and the heart of the song is the cry to God ‘Don’t leave me alone, don’t forget me, you are the Sun of the People’. The Sun is symbolic of God who can be seen everywhere, and one of the names for Jesus in Arabic is ‘Shams al a’dl’ which means ‘Son of Justice’. The poor cry to God to shine the justice of Jesus on them. It was greeted with rapturous applause. Not a bad song towards the end of a Micah trip with an emphasis on crossing borders and ‘acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly’.
Salaam, Shalom, Peace