HEBRON: “What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!”

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CPTnet

December 7, 2002

HEBRON: “What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!”

by Anne Montgomery

What does it mean to “watch?” In Bethlehem, this first week of Advent,

faces watch from doorways, at corners, as those under curfew risk the

streets to visit sick relatives or find the half-opened grocery door.

Soldiers watch from tanks, at checkpoints for the unwary traveler, or invade

houses in the dark hours before dawn when no one is watching.

It is difficult, in the midst of this almost obsessive watching, to practice

scriptural

awareness, especially in those low moments: “in the evening, or at midnight,

or when the cockcrows, or at dawn,” when the watch fires are burning piles

of uncollected garbage.

Yet, some are awake to what is real beneath the facts–the human spirit that

can throw off the occupation of mind and body. Children know this

instinctively as they kick balls in Nativity Square or ride bikes wildly

down Manger Road. Adults, frightened by the unpredictable, be it night raid,

the tank around the corner, or even the mood of a particular soldier, have

inner walls to break down.

A Palestinian friend has his own obsession: to smash such walls. He shops

for a “Palestinian Thanksgiving” and invites the neighbors. He walks to

meet with Muslims and Christians for long evening discussions. He drives

from the top of Beit Jala, through Bethlehem, to the center of Beit Sahour,

stopping to talk to friends or offer strangers rides – always an example of

nonviolent resistance. He judges its growth by counting cars passing and

shops opening on streets largely not patrolled where, although risk is a

reality, the “curfew of the mind” is even stronger. His car sputters; his

sink fills with dishes; he forgets to buy bread; but he is truly aware, not

needing the cockcrow to call him back to hard reality and the hope hidden

within: the groaning of the Spirit birthing new life in those who watch for

its coming.

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