As two short-term volunteers visiting the CPT Palestine program, we were offered a rich window into the daily work of CPT, but even more so, we were touched and honoured to be granted access into the personal joys and struggles of the team members. These brave young adults are not just peace advocates in a very complex and troubling political climate. (Our week with them spanned the Thursday massacre of nine Palestinians in Jenin, followed by retaliatory violence toward Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem). They aspire to live normal lives with freedom of movement and expression, and the liberty to pursue their dreams.
If there was one thing that inspired us and sometimes brought us to tears, it was the sense of joy this group exudes—all the more poignant within the context of trouble and uncertainty. They joke around a lot and seem to be the best of friends. Early on, we watched video clips of a wacky fashion show they had at a supporter’s house. They often have Palestinian sweets on their main work-room table. They give each other and their visitors nicknames of affection. They sang happy birthday to Byron in both English and Arabic.
In their team meetings, they take time for reflection and team-building exercises—naming their struggles and joys, taking time for reflection, and returning to their spiritual centre. This team, like others around the world, tries to maintain a spiritual grounding in all they do. They invited us to take a turn in leading a reflection time, so we shared verses from Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light…. Whom shall I fear?”, which had become meaningful to us in the wake of the Jenin raid and the reverberations around the West Bank that followed. A sharing circle afterward confirmed to us that this work is sacred, that somehow in the struggle for a just peace, love will ultimately win.
We hold in our hearts and prayers the CPT Palestine team, asking God to grant them
- safety, courage, wisdom, and grace as they persist in the hard work of nonviolent resistance and compassionate intervention;
- provision for the emotional and physical needs they face within their families and social circles;
- opportunities to partner well with local and international colleagues in the work of justice and peace.