Reading: In Jerusalem by Mahmoud Darwish

Today I read a poem by Mahmoud Darwish (1942-2008) in a translation by Fady Joudah. Darwish was born in Galilee, in a village that doesn’t exist anymore. He lived in exile in Beirut and Paris and published a lot of books. I know that he was considered a ‘resistance poet’ and served on an executive committee of the PLO (1987-1993), but I don’t want to get into politics. I just like this poem.

In Jerusalem
In Jerusalem, and I mean within the ancient walls,
I walk from one epoch to another without a memory
to guide me. The prophets over there are sharing
the history of the holy … ascending to heaven
and returning less discouraged and melancholy, because love
and peace are holy and are coming to town.
I was walking down a slope and thinking to myself: How
do the narrators disagree over what light said about a stone?
Is it from a dimly lit stone that wars flare up?
I walk in my sleep. I stare in my sleep. I see
no one behind me. I see no one ahead of me.
All this light is for me. I walk. I become lighter. I fly
then I become another. Transfigured. Words
sprout like grass from Isaiah’s messenger
mouth: “If you don’t believe you won’t be safe.”
I walk as if I were another. And my wound a white
biblical rose. And my hands like two doves
on the cross hovering and carrying the earth.
I don’t walk, I fly, I become another,
transfigured. No place and no time. So who am I?
I am no I in ascension’s presence. But I
think to myself: Alone, the prophet Muhammad
spoke classical Arabic. “And then what?”
Then what? A woman soldier shouted:
Is that you again? Didn’t I kill you?
I said: You killed me … and I forgot, like you, to die.

The ending is a strong way to characterize the conflict in the Middle East. The first lines give a wonderful impression of the poet walking through Jerusalem after so many years in exile. He has no memory but walks between epochs and feels the prophets’ labor of love and peace.

Though the narrators disagree about ‘what light said about a stone’ and this caused wars. The poet is sleepwalking and becomes lighter and lighter, undergoing a transformation three times. Transfiguration, doves, a biblical rose and the cross – the poem is replete with Christian symbols.

The enlightened soul is hovering over the streeds of Jerusalem, not in place and time, he is no “I” in ascension’s presence. But all this hovering causes spiritual traffic congestion nonetheless, as the shouting woman soldier indicates. Didn’t I kill you? Didn’t I make sure that my narrator is the only one? Oh yes, we all did.

Reading: In Jerusalem by Mahmoud Darwish was originally published on Meandering home

Daughters of Charity

Bethlehem, Israel/Palestine. November 24th, 2009

Daughters of Charity is an orphan home providing shelter for children irrespective of their religion. They also support female victims of domestic violence.

We make a small donation.

Name Daughters of Charity Bethlehem
Aim To take care of maltreated, orphaned, undernourished, abused, or abandoned children from the Palestine territories
Since 1883
Staff 45 people work at the centre. There are 16 caregivers/nurses, 4 teachers, 2 supervisors.
People reached Currently 45 children aged 0-6 live in the crèche; 60 more children come for day care. Capacity is 120 children.
Also, there are more than 20 cases of pregnancies of unmarried women each year, who find refuge here.
Contact Daughters of Charity
Paul VI street, Bethlehem – French Hospital
POB: 11451
9114 Gilo-Jerusalem
Donation 50 USD

This is Charity Travel’s fastest cause so far. In only ten minutes I am guided around the church complex and take pictures of their good work. A good friend back home in the Netherlands has also vouched for this cause.

Daughters of Charity Bethlehem is a daycare center for the most underprivileged children from Palestine territories, regardless of their religion. It also shelters unwed mothers whose life is in danger as they come from a conservative islamic environment.
Since 1883, the sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul are taking care of the most underprivileged children in the holy land. In 1895 they established a hospital, now known as the Maternity of Bethlehem.
The Crèche itself has a capacity for 120 children, that are given much needed love, security, care and education in our times that are rather dark as a result of the inhumane separation wall and humiliations by the Israeli military (see this blog-post)

In the actual Socio-geopolitical context, the ‘Crèche of Bethlehem’ is more than ever necessary. It is an oasis for peace for the abandoned or entrusted children: children from poor background in every sense, undernourished, beaten, sometimes even raped, thrown out from their families by the mother in law, witnesses of the tragic death of their parents. Babies left on the road by desperate unwed mothers, and in many occasions it’s the only refuge for such Moms.” [source: Daughters of Charity brochure]

Daughters of Charity was originally published on Meandering home