At the end of the first day, I haven’t looked into the part of my brain that tells me how I feel about today’s trip.

My main focus today was to shut up the part of my mind that judges and evaluates and let my inner most self soak in the surroundings, the people and their lives, the words of the speakers and the emotion in the spaces.

The one thing that shows up for me right now is the memories of the dancing bodies and the joyful eyes of the children.

Walking through a city and country where so much of the basic things necessary for a meaningful, satisfying life have been stolen from the people and their land, I can feel the loss and can see the effort in the faces that it takes to get through the day.

I can see and feel space filled with mistrust, the fear, the doubt and the low level of hope.

Seeing the twin 4 year old girls holding hands, skipping through the market in the Old City of Jerusalem, their eyes sparkling and faces full of the joy of life for a moment causes all the negative to fall away and the joy available in life to show up.

There is something about this innocent joy that makes life worth living and worth fighting for in the worst of circumstances.

Just a thought.

Then my mind goes to the occupation.  Forgetting the unforgivable planning that went into the creation of the Zionist state and the Nakba in 1946, ‘47 & ‘48, just seeing the reality today of 30 foot walls separating people from their land and their way of life, their actual livelihood – How can one man know the joy of seeing his child grow and turn around and build a wall that takes the life away from another man’s child?

I came to Palestine thinking I would find a people crushed and defeated by a hundred years of having another people stealing their land, destroying their way of life and locking them up in outdoor prisons but what I found my first day in Palestine was love and joy.  That gives me hope in what seems like a hopeless situation.