On 19 December I sang for a ceasefire and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine with over 175 Mennonites and allies at Waterloo City Hall, in Waterloo, Canada. We were one of at least 40 actions that took place across Turtle Island, raising our collective voice of over 1700 people. 

This action was incredibly moving for me, but with the bustle of family visits, the holiday season, and travels, I didn’t really get a chance to reflect. Now, sitting back in my living room in Amman with a hot cup of tea, I’m taking a minute to meditate on those feelings.

My Mennonite identity is something I hold close, it’s generally one of the first things I tell people about. Our communities shape us and guide us. Community gives us a sense of belonging, a place to exert our existence, an opportunity to be seen. Communities don’t always agree, but we choose to stick together anyway. It’s a radical love kind of thing.

Although I’ve spent most my my adult life far from home, I am fortunate that CPT has taken on the role of my faith community (of course, throughout my travels I’m still always playing the Mennonite game, seeking out Mennonite Central Committee folks and connections through Mennonite Your Way.) Thanks to technology, I’ve been able to stay in touch with my home church, but we all know zoom calls can’t really replace a potluck, a hymn sing, or a quilting bee. 

And that’s what moved me on 19 December: presence. It’s a tenet of CPT’s practice of nonviolence, the physical statement of solidarity, the intentional use of my body and my voice, alongside hundreds and thousands of others, to enact my values and beliefs in public. To refuse silence, apathy, and indifference. 

My Mennonite upbringing taught me the power of conscience, the consequences of taking a moral stand, and the will to do it anyway. Then, my CPT community informed and educated me on the Palestinian struggle for liberation and the parallel struggles of Colombians, Kurds, migrants, Indigenous Land and Water defenders, and other communities of oppressed peoples. 

And there I stood, alongside the Mennonites who raised me and the Palestinian community who have since warmly welcomed me as an ally through CPT and now marriage, with a new understanding of the strength of presence and the overwhelming importance of joining our communities together.

As I looked out over the crowd, I realized, I belong. There is space for me here, with multiple identities and communities who are willing to set fear aside and unlearn racism and discrimination so that we can all be free. 

With a tear-stained hymnal, I sang fiercely: “When the world is silent/when I’m feeling lonely/when I think on Jesus, I hear music in the air. There must be a God somewhere.”

Picture of Hannah Redekop

Hannah Redekop

CPT Communications Associate

Send Hannah a note: peacemakers@cpt.org

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