Summer's End - Returning to Jerusalem

Tina Whitehead



Summer’s End – Returning to Jerusalem

I’m writing this on September 16 as I prepare to return to Jerusalem on the 21st. It’s been a full summer with opportunities to teach, speak, travel, network and spend time with friends. But even though it’s hard to uproot once more, I’m ready to go back.
A highlight of the summer (and there were many) was the opportunity to spend time at a retreat center in Massachusetts on a 6 day silent retreat. It was given to me as a gift by a Catholic sister who I met in Jerusalem in April and it was a wonderful chance to stop and reflect on my experiences of the past few years and to pray and consider God’s leading.
A retreat of this type focuses on prayer and meditation. I struggle with prayer. Sometimes silence is my preferred prayer; sometimes “words”, although they never seem adequate. But I believe prayer is a relationship, an awareness of being with God in all of my life. And just as I’ve been nurturing my friendships while being home, God calls me to nurture my relationship with God and to become more and more aware of his presence.
The final exercise that I was asked to do was to write a parable. We’d been discussing   the idea of pilgrimage (yes, on a silent retreat there is conversation: 45 minutes/day of spiritual direction). I’d like to share with you what I wrote:
The Kingdom of God is like…
            …a pilgrim seeker who sets out on a journey, not knowing how she will arrive but trusting in the leading of a voice not her own. On the way she meets many challenges, but always feels protected, cared for, not alone. As she continues her journey she encounters people and situations which cause her to reflect on, question and sometimes change her perception of the world around her. She sees people who are invisible, hears voices that go unheard. She sees God who cares and sees and hears and who invites her to do the same and to share this caring and seeing and hearing with others. As she continues on, she realizes that the destination becomes not a place but the journey itself.
All summer long I kept being asked, “What exactly is it that you do?” I smile, because I don’t really have an answer. But on writing this parable, I discovered that this is what I do: I am called to share these invisible people, voices and stories with anyone who will listen. My invisible people are the Palestinians and I share their voices because God hears and asks that they be heard. Thank you for being willing to listen.
Blessings and peace, Tina


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