“[A friend] once said to me, after one of my more finely worded rants about stupid people who have the wrong opinions, “Nadia, the thing that sucks is that every time we draw a line between us and others, Jesus is always on the other side of it.” Damn.” – Nadia Bolz Webber, Pastrix
Just a few days ago, I was packing up my East Campus apartment. I graduated college, took pictures with my friends, and celebrated with my family. I didn’t know that as I was handed my diploma and told I could go anywhere in the world, there was a group of people boxed in by a big ugly wall. I didn’t know that as I walked the streets of Sioux Center to get to the Fruited Plain, there were students my age who needed to do so much just to be able to cross into Palestine from Jerusalem to go to Bethlehem University. I didn’t know that while my degree gave me a voice to speak into my country’s issues, men and women in Palestine were being arrested for posting something political on their social media feeds.
But today began a shift in me. I walked through a refugee camp and put my fingers in the bullet holes in an elementary school wall. I stood where a thirteen year old boy was innocently shot to his death. I read the messages of despair painted all over the wall that cut through the city of Bethlehem. I looked into the eyes of men and women who have been persecuted, oppressed, and silenced.
And today, I stood in the same place where Jesus was born. There was no room in Bethlehem for His pregnant mother to deliver Him, so she and Joseph journeyed to the back of the cave alongside the animals. Right from His first breath, He stepped into darkness, impurity, and filth.
I don’t have many (if any) answers regarding the injustice that I saw today. I was told it was complicated, but once encountering it for myself I know that “complicated” is too simple of a word. I’m eager to continue to spend more time both on the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the wall, learning people’s stories along the way.
All I know is “every time we draw a line between us and others, Jesus is always on the other side of it.” If He is able to bring light into the darkness of His birthplace, surely He can redeem even the deepest of conflicts.
Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison.