The Sustaining and Transformative Power of Tradition
I chose this particular delegation because of its emphasis and focus on the environment and the olive harvest. I knew I wanted to understand and be a part of a centuries old tradition that tied the people to the land and to nature.
The olive tree and all the life sustaining things it symbolizes is sacred in Palestinian society and to be a part of an olive harvest festival and part of an actual olive harvest was very spiritual and transforming for me.
I can vividly remember the smiles on the faces of the people at the olive harvest festival, the tour of the processing plant, the pride in the guide as she explained the fair trade principles and co-op successes, the running around and giggles from the children, the super delicious down-home soul food, the sips of coffee, tea and the tamarind vendor, the rhythmic, pulsating music, and the traditional circle dancing that seemed to lift the cares of the people and take them on a flight to the heavens!
There was joy and a renewing of the spirit in the air that connected to the ancestors and affirmed the peoples’ commitment to be free.
And what can be said of the actual olive harvest, an opportunity to touch, to commune with, to bear witness to spirit trees that are hundreds of years old, some even thousands of years old! I traveled back in time to places that I had read about, to peoples that existed in ancient times and felt connected to the land and to humanity.
I felt like I was part of a sacred ritual, one that has replicated itself from generation to generation from the early beginnings of time.
There was something mystical and magical about the picking of the fruit, the tapping of the trees with a stick, the gathering of the bushels, the camaraderie we shared, the peasant food, the scorched pots on the wood burning fire, going to the bathroom behind a tree (haha), and somehow sitting comfortably on those hard rocks. We worked up a sweat, but we also worked up so much more!
I am so grateful that I was a part of this particular delegation and that God granted me the opportunity to realize one of my life dreams.