Meditations of the Heart (Thurman) Day 16

Its-Not-My-Fault in quotes Thurman basically says we’re all deflecting responsibility for ‘negative deeds’.  We all have some excuses, some extenuating circumstance with a ready alibi. (37-38)

Rarely is one willing to face the fact that the negative deed was what was really intended. Ooopsy!

But, If I’m on the receiving end of a negative deed though, I tend to regard it as a deliberate move against me.

Therefore: Practice charity toward others. Other than that, remember that judgement is for God to do.  Every judgement that I pass upon my fellows is a self-judgment.

Ohhhh, caught me!

Sabeel Wave of Prayer Nov. 27

Lord, we thank you for the beginning of Advent this weekend – for valuing humanity enough to become one of us, for taking on flesh and teaching us how to love.  God, we ask for your guidance so that we not only reflect on this time with hope, joy, peace, love and joy, but also act upon it.    Lord in your mercy…

We continue to worry about Jerusalem, including the city’s increased violence and Israel’s forms of collective punishment on Palestinians living there, such as home demolitions, revocation of residency rights and many other measures. We are also concerned with the increasingly negative economic effects experienced in the Palestinian community of East Jerusalem. God, we pray for an end to injustice and suffering in this already economically depressed area.  Lord in your mercy…

Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian physician who has volunteered as a medical solidarity worker during the past three Gaza bombardments, has been banned from entering Gaza through Israel, currently the only possible way in.  God of healing, we pray that this unjust ban by Israel is lifted and that he and other humanitarian workers are not prevented from doing their critical work in this devastated region.  Lord in your mercy…

We are thankful for our friendships and partnerships with many churches worldwide, including The United Methodist Church Global Ministries.  We pray that many people will be inspired to give generously as part of the Global Ministries “Giving Tuesday” campaign on December 2nd for Advance projects and partners worldwide.   Lord in your mercy…

Lord, we pray this week for our community Advent program in Bethlehem, which will reflect on Luke 2:10when the angel appeared to the shepherds, and for our Nazareth activities, including a youth retreat for Advent.  This Thursday at the Dominican Church, Sabeel will hold an ecumenical prayer service for Jerusalem.  Lord, comfort the community as it comes together in prayer. Lord in your mercy…

We pray alongside the World Council of Churches for the countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.  Lord in your mercy…

Meditations of the Heart (Thurman) Day 15

As long as a person has a dream in his heart, he cannot lose the significance of living (Thurman, 36).

balloons reflected in tranquil water
Float away dreams, leave your residue in my mind and float beyond me to become.

Such things as dreams are often regarded as romantic, or a badge of immaturity, or as escape hatches for the human spirit.  I remember my mom would gently run her hand over my face when she caught me staring into space, dreaming.

She seemed to not want me to day dream. There was a sense that dreamers don’t have all of it together, they’ve got their heads in the clouds.

Y’know, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

What I regret is those people who dampen the dreams of others. Those who insist in rational thoughts only and smother any dreams from coming to fullness. Thurman would say: “The dream is the quiet persistence in the heart that enables a man to ride out the storms of his churning experiences.”

“The dream in the heart is an outlet. It is one with the living water welling up from the very springs of Being, nourishing and sustaining all of life.” (36)

balloon with pin prick
Why are we tempted to burst someone’s balloon? Can we not stand to see others dream of better things?

Don’t burst my balloon! 

Caring for Palestine Days of Science Festival

We are in the midst of the “Days of Science Festival” in Palestine (in 18 cities). Palestine Days of Science FestivalIn Bethlehem District, it is inspiring to watch hundreds of school children learn basics of questioning and basics of knowledge acquisition. Students just need opportunities to learn not to be lectured to. Unfortunately education is taking a back seat among Israelis and Palestinians to the ongoing daily distorted realities of the governments. For example 43% of the Palestinian authority budget goes to security (for Israel as subcontractors of occupation). Israel spent $8 billion just on the expansion and annexation apartheid wall to steal more Palestinian land. The Oslo and Paris accords ensured expansion of corruption to unprecedented levels (both in NGOs and government level).  Glittery buildings and fancy SUVs and hotels ensure the rich in Ramallah and Tel Aviv know little and care less about the marginalized in our society. Thus 25% of Israeli children and >50% of Palestinian children live below the poverty line. Otherwise good people (Palestinian and Israeli) now spend their days begging for aid from Europeans and Americans and writing progress reports and filling in text and pictures on imaginary “development activities”. The Palestinian authority figures and Israeli leaders play games and meet with “dignitaries” in 5-star hotels hoping they could delay the inevitable collapse of the corrupt system they created. Perhaps they think that one more year of the status quo means one more year to accumulate wealth of the hapless people. Meanwhile, the Zionist Knesset passes a racist “basic” law that consecrates Israel as the state of “the Jewish people” (Jewish national anthem, laws based on Jewish mythology etc). I do not know why people complain about the “Islamic State” when Israel has similar racist laws that set it up as a “Jewish state”.

Insightful letter from US President Thomas Jefferson to Mordecai Noah,  May 28, 1818: “I thank you for the Discourse on the consecration of the Synagogue in your city, with which you have been pleased to favor me. I have read it with pleasure and instruction, having learnt from it some valuable facts in Jewish history which I did not know before. Your sect by its sufferings has furnished a remarkable proof of the universal spirit of religious intolerance inherent in every sect, disclaimed by all while feeble, and practiced by all when in power. Our laws have applied the only antidote to this vice, protecting our religious, as they do our civil rights, by putting all on an equal footing. But more remains to be done, for although we are free by the law, we are not so in practice.”

Colonization activities here in Palestine go unchecked: Jerusalem is being mutated to a Jewish city and its natives removed, and the common people suffer horridly (house demolitions, killing, jailing, ethnic cleansing etc). The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. International law and human rights are not relevant to the racist Zionist “might makes right.” Yet, we do not have the luxury of despair and we must redouble our efforts even in the spheres we can work. That is why we teach students at our universities. That is why over 30 volunteers are working hard every day on the science festival in the Palestine Museum of Natural History (at Bethlehem University). Changing behavior is critical to build the human resources needed to reshape the future. We believe we can make our own future and write our own history. The challenges we face are both external and internal and the internal challenges are far more pressing. We must end the mental colonization before we end the physical one.

I end with a message from a South African who participated in work with the World Council of Churches in Palestine: “Dr Mazin: your article today reads like a discourse from our apartheid South African history. It takes me back to my own childhood & growing up, the displacement of communities, creation of what they called homelands, alienation of family & friends. Tensions flaring, arrests, loved ones leaving the country of their birth, some to never be seen again. Violent killings or imprisonment of those who resisted. All this in the name of religion & the entitlement of one over another. It was legitimized by many countries around the world. That was why I couldn’t just walk away in 2004 when I volunteered to heed the call of the Palestinian religious leaders via EAPPI & stayed for 2 years. I later realised why. It was something I knew, grew up with could relate to & also knew it would not, could not last forever. Unfortunately the world is so slow to react to this gross injustice, the same as with apartheid or the holocaust, or ebola, or South Sudan & so I can go on. Evil can only prevail when good man do nothing. My comrade never get tired with what you are doing, this too shall end. Aluta continua!!! In SA we also have another slogan : Amandla – Awethu!!! (Power to the people). Stay strong, I was born under Apartheid & lived & worked to see its end.”

I may add that like with South Africa, help of the international community must be directed at ending apartheid not at making conditions of imprisonment (colonization) a bit more tolerable to the native people. Hence I say encourage BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) and encourage real resistance to the apartheid state of Israel. Try to avoid those who claim they are resisting in order to get a few more donor dollars! Try to put your effort (and money) in a direction that produces measurable impact in that direction.

To see pictures of our activities in the science festival and more, look for our facebook page under Palestine Museum of Natural History. Also come visit us anytime.

The battle for Jerusalem

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Professor (Bethlehem University) and director PMNH

Bethlehem, Occupied Palestine

Update from Mazin Qumsiyeh, Palestine Museum of Natural History

This message today is a brief one to give you commentary on the
deteriorating situation here, and two action items  and we titled it
Theater of the absurd versus reality

John Kerry conducted a theatre of the absurd in Amman by Mazin Qumsiyeh
US Secretary John Kerry met in Amman with King Abdullah, PM Netanyahu, and
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas for the umpteenth episode of the ongoing theatre
saga dubbed the “peace process.”…. for more go to

Action for EU citizens: End the EU-Israel association agreement

Tomorrow (Thursday) we open the Palestine “days of science” festival in the
Bethlehem District. This month, this festival is opening in Palestinian
cities like Nazareth, Jerusalem, Gaza, Jericho and others. In Bethlehem we
at the Palestine Museum of Natural History are honored to be the venue for
this great project. For many weeks, students, teachers, and volunteers
worked hard to put together a festival of science days that will allow
students in the Bethlehem District to have unique experience. Scheduled
between November 20 and November 29, the days at the Palestine Museum of
Natural History will be filled with activities ranging from doing actual
scientific experiments, to observing and studying nature, to appreciating
our cultural and scientific heritage, to dealing with animals, and to
recycling material. The activities promote critical thinking, questioning
attitude, love of all living things, and sustainable living. LET US KNOW IF
facebook under Palestine Museum of Natural History

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Bethlehem University, Occupied Palestine

Meditations of the Heart (Thurman) Day 13

It seems that Thurman has segregated humans into three categories:

1) those who have a vision and the abilities and opportunities to achieve that vision even through trials.
2) those who have a vision but the way is paved with difficulties that weigh them down.
3) those to whom a vision never comes. Their road is neither rough nor smooth, no sudden turns nor surprises.

Thurman blesses them all asking God to provide for each person, according to their need. “Pour out the riches of Thy grace that none need be alone and none may seek another’s light.”

We’re all given our own path to travel. Some will be easier than others. Some will take the light and run toward their vision. Others will try to run without light and stumble along.  Still others will be content not to run for a vision.  All are good.  None are better than the other. There is no reason for harm. God loves each one just as they are.

Meditations of the Heart (Thurman) Day 12

golden pond and canoeToday’s entry: Rev. Thurman says that God perpetually calls us and urges us to renew both rest and work.  I think what he means is that God wants us to work and bring something to fruition, but also wants us to rest.  I’m not sure where play and pleasure fit in here but; I think they’re important too.

It seems to me that this concept, as laid out by Thurman, encourages workaholism.  If we’re either to work or to rest, and if we believe that work leads to fruition, then more work leads to more fruition, right?  And, that’s good, right? Or is that just an American philosophy?  What about rest?

Thurman does make clear that rest is necessary. Up to this point in his book of meditations, he’s been a strong advocate of having quiet time and enough time to be able to center down into a meditative state.  Here he writes “Even casual reflection would lead one to recognize that a very urgent function of the quiet time is to provide a breather for the spirit, opportunity for catching up, reorganization and re-evaluating the endless activities in which we are involved daily and hourly.”

NOW, he’s sounding like a 21st century fellow.  We are all interested in doing things, going places and doing new things. There are not a lot of people sitting on their decks or (gasp- front porches) shootin’ the breeze or chillin’.  Well, maybe on the weekends. But, I wonder how many people “PLAN” that… they actually book that time. – Cause otherwise they’d be given their precious time to someone else: work, chores, meetings, etc.

I grew up in the sixties and seventies with a dad who’d sit on the porch swing almost every evening.  Folks in our community would drive by and wave hello as he sat pondering and simply being in that space at that time.  I would love to do that, but I don’t think any neighbors would wave hello, much less come over for a brief chat.  It would be nice, though.

Rather, it seems that our jobs (and some of us have more than one), our civic meetings, our kids’ recreation and, house responsibilities keep us shuffling from one thing to the next.  We rest at night, dropping into bed after a full day.  Some of us fall asleep; some of us have wild minds that replay or rehearse events for hours.

To ask for the pace of the ‘good old days’ would be short sided because with that pace comes some of the ignorant behaviors we’ve done well to overcome. But I do agree with Thurman that we need to work and to rest. But, we also need to love, to uphold justice, to tender one another, to play, to encourage, to  argue respectfully, to find pleasure and, to provide pleasure.  I just worry that all the activities are too taxing and we’re not able to find rest within the effort.  It sounds like an oxymoron but I think its the alchemy that will save us.