She knew I was leaving for Israel and Palestine on Thursday.
We stood in the Starbucks parking lot on a Saturday afternoon in Surrey. That morning, my friend Melaney had joined me at an event where I was sharing my story. She came in solidarity and friendship and her presence, as a Musqueam woman, meant something profound to me in that room. We went for coffee afterwards, weaving the strands of sisterhood and letting the Creator of the Universe hold us. We talked, telling more of our stories and hearts. This is a relationship that’s being woven and we can feel it, but we are still at the beginning of it.
Then, standing in the parking lot, saying our goodbyes, we hugged. You know when you can feel a hug? When you can feel the spaces and stories between you solidify? We stood there in that web of connection.
When we opened our eyes, she took the scarf from her shoulders—a beautiful black and red scarf with an indigenous design on it—and placed it around my neck.
Go, represent Canada, she said.
My sister, this First Woman of Canada, was sending me, blessing me, charging me. I stood and felt the weight of her words and the fullness of what the scarf meant. Then she sent me these few words later on in the day:
“I give you my scarf as a covering and it comes with my commitment to pray for you as you go. Blankets and scarves are protection for my people. In love and friendship, I am honored to witness your work on this earth and I’m honored to walk with you.”
This is what holy, divinely-ordained friendship does. We weave together. We stand together. We heal together. We walk together. We send each other. We bless each other. We receive from each other. We stand in the fullness of our own stories—our pain and our joy—and we meet each other there.
When she placed the scarf around my neck and commissioned me, I responded:
The weaving of our hearts together is peacemaking. Standing in solidarity is peacemaking. Holding space for differences is peacemaking.
When I get on the plane on Thursday night, I will be embarking on a new chapter in my story. I know it. My story has come to this now. I have shared my story of pain. I have allowed the God of the Universe to meet me in my pain. I have been blessed with relationships that have healed me and are still healing me. I have been challenged to look the people I could hate most in the face and love them. I am called to HONOR EVERYONE.
And now, I am going to a place of deep conflict.
When I started my journey of healing from Apartheid, I knew I had to pay attention to where apartheid still exists in our world. I felt a charge and wrote this in my journal:
Go stand in the most divided places.
When I heard the word “apartheid” used in relation to Israel and Palestine, I knew I would go there one day. Some day. When the time was ready. It became a prayer I held in my heart.
This past summer, I met the beautiful people of the Global Immersion Project. I sat in on their Peacemaking track at the SimplyJesus Gathering and there was just this glueing together of hearts. Jer Swigart and Jon Huckins, two guys with big hearts, had language for the things I felt like we were doing here on SheLoves. They had language for some of the things I am hoping we instill and weave and build here. They had language for justice and peacemaking and the path of solidarity as it intersects with our faith.
They told me about a new initiative they are starting—an initiative to build capacity in women to be peacemakers. They believe it’s time for the women to rise. They asked if I would consider coming along. Their hope is that more of our SheLoves women would become interested in this journey and be open and ready to become peacemakers—at home, in our cities and our communities, but O, also in our world.
It’s so easy for me to become deeply saddened by the state of our world. I am wrecked by the language we fire at each other, like we want to annihilate people with our words. The dismissal, rejection, belittling, denial, dehumanizing I see on the Internet, on Facebook, on Twitter and even around tables, eat away at me. I love every one of those outlets, but my heart aches when it is used as a battlefield.
And then I remember: We are called to be peacemakers. We are not called to be peacekeepers, but we have an assignment to be makers and crafters and weavers of peace. Beautiful peace.
Peacemaking requires training. It requires capacity. It requires understanding AND heart. Spirit and soul and body. Peacemaking is about whole making. Jesus called it blessed.
Going to Israel and Palestine, is about starting a relationship with the people of the land. It is saying, I refuse to accept violence as our only solution. Going to Israel and Palestine, walking and listening and being there, will be about starting the journey of understanding. Not choosing sides. But coming alongside to listen, hear, build, strengthen, LOVE.
I long for us as women to build this capacity to be peacemakers. This is not an easy calling, because it’s not about choosing a side or hammering down an agenda. It’s not about using force, but it’s about finding a different way forward. It’s about choosing to enter into our own stories and ultimately the larger Story of our world with a heart for reconciliation, wholeness, listening and ultimately peace.
“This is a costly, creative way of life and women just naturally get that,” Jer Swigart reminds me. “It’s not a way of life for some. It’s what we’ve been designed for–all of us. There’s something of the divine DNA implanted within women that means you know how to make peace where it seems impossible to be made. You know how to bleed so that life emerges. You have a natural propelling toward the human heart, unity and oneness. It’s costly to make peace, he adds, “and so very worth it.”
I will be flying off on Thursday night and arriving in Tel Aviv early on Saturday morning. I will be there for one week with a group of women, mostly from the United States. (Yes, we will be there during the US election!) I will be representing Canada. I will be representing this beautiful community of SheLoves—those of us who choose to be women who LOVE. I will be building capacity to be a peacemaker.
I will be posting on my Instagram and Facebook, but if you would like to enter into this journey with me as a prayer partner, I have created a private prayer group on Facebook for those of you who want to stand in solidarity and journey along. As you may know, the people who are most affected by my trip, are the ones who stay behind. Scott will be carrying our home and three children for the 10 days while I am away. This is where the real hero work happens. This is also where some very real peacemaking occurs. If you could pray for some special Grace to rest on him and my family, I would so appreciate it.
I feel like I am going on this journey for all of us, and with all of you. This is about factfinding and heartfelt listening, like Joshua. I am preparing my heart and my mind. I am listening to The Lemon Tree and reading John Paul Lederach’s The Little Book of Conflict Transformation. I will be writing and observing and praying.
And you know I will be wearing my scarf.