WHEN IN PALESTINE

Elizabeth Welliver (Davidson, North Carolina)

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When in Palestine, the kindom* of God is like this

like the woman who brings her bucket of water to pour on the children in the noon hour when the electricity is robbed for days on end 

like the farmer who climbs through miles of weeds and walls to water the trees his great-great-ancestors nourished for centuries 

like the sound of fireworks taking the sky from the clashing of bullets to the dawn of celebrations 

like the underground tunnel dug inch by inch season after season for the prisoners to breathe a little deeper

like the believer's heart that is unchained when the soldiers storm the mosque to open fire and their peace remains 

like the crescent moon raised above the desert clouds that stores a month of hope to be full

like the rosemary waving its scent through the streets where the children climb walls to find their families enough to eat

like the eyes of the woman and man, old and young, rich and poor holding the glimmering dome that never fails to reflect the sun

like the song raised when the crowd stills to sound God is great, God is greater before the tanks in their faces 

like the grandmother who spins the stories on her clay floor with the children who know whose they are

like the refuser who walks away from everything she has been told of the army to be free from the sword in body and conscience  

like the rain that falls on the heart broken open when the truth is spoken however bitter to the taste

like the lawyer who stands before the court with all conscience to defend the innocent without any chance to win

like the strangers taking hands to run from the gas that explodes at their feet with their hearts racing 

like the people who live knowing dignity is their only solid ground to stand upon when the earth quakes with suppression and the hate speech like smoke arises  

like the here and now when everything is fragile and broken but we stay awake, like the impossible and vital thread among us and within us but not yet complete 

like the thing has no walls, no weapons, no loneliness and can see through all that is hidden behind helmets and barricades 

like the face you cannot stop loving even when you close your eyes and know their freedom is your own

like the time we stopped to hear the call to prayer after sunset and remembered God comes to us in the folds of darkness

*kindom is a term from womanist theology that seeks to be more inclusive of all peoples