Endings are difficult. But each ending also holds the potential for new beginning ~ And some things don’t end, they simply take on new form ~ So it is for me and my EAPPI colleagues in Group 50 as we prepare to say goodbye to all we have known and loved here in South Hebron Hills these past months.
Group 51 has arrived, filled with excitement, anticipation, and a measure of trepidation ~ all are infused with fresh energy and wide-eyed wonder. This is tempered by Group 50’s three months of treasured memories coupled with a sense of loss and nostalgia. As the “outgoing team,” we walk our new EAPPI colleagues through three days of intensive on the ground training as we prepare to pass on to them this work of accompaniment. They are keen and eager. We are pensive and nostalgic ~ Today is our last checkpoint monitoring ~ our last school run ~ our last village visit ~ our last walk in that haunting landscape that is Masafer Yatta (“firing zone 918”) ~ The last for now.
As Group 51 returns to Jerusalem for their final days of training, time opens for us. We have only 4 days remaining. Our “to do” list is long. We revisit favorite villages ~ special places. We make phone calls and visit friends who have become family. We drink endless cups of tea as we reminisce ~ We laugh and cry over countless remembered moments.
It is true that at some point in time I will likely return to this land that has shaped my days ~ to these people who have touched my life and now have a place in my heart ~ But it will not be the same. Nothing ever is! ~ It makes me ponder… But all things come to an end ~ Or morph into a new form ~ And so I choose to relish these last days ~ And I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity that has been mine ~ for this collection of moments, this place, these people with whom I have lived and worked ~ for the privilege of walking with them ~ for lessons learned ~ for the richness that is now a part of my lived experience because I have been privileged to touch what matters ~ I am deeply grateful.
A chapter has come to an end. But a new chapter waits to be written. Stories have been shared, and stories have yet to be told ~ May our eyes and our hearts open to all that is ours to learn as we continue in ways both old and new to work tirelessly for justice and peace ~ to speak for those who have no voice ~ to stand against the denial of dignity and basic human rights ~ to advocate for those on whatever margin ~ to hear one another into speech ~ What a wonderful world it could be! ~ May we be the answer to our deepest longings.