A Light on the Hill

Gaza: Poetic Reflections

Here are two poetic reflections on the current distressing situation in Gaza.
Shared with permission of the poet, David Lorimer.

The Dispossessed of Gaza

By powerful forces
Planning imposition
Behind closed doors.

Carved out,
Carved up,
Fenced off,
Neighbours were estranged
From living on the land together.

Gasping for space,
These neighbours now survive apart,
They now survive in fear.

Tensions build,
Weapons brandished,
Rising defiance,
Resistance and ripostes.

Clamping down,
Closing in,
Bottling up
Ignites a powder keg of rage
On either side.

The shadow is other,
The other is shadow,
Not I, the righteous one
But you, the accused,
The despicable,
The despised,
The destitute,
The undeserving.

How do we right such wrongs?
How do we confess our share of guilt?
How do we defuse such griefs of history?

Not through resentment,
Not through revenge,
Not through recrimination,
Neither through retaliation.

Only a new beginning
Will bring an end
To such recurring cycles of violence – 
Only a new beginning.

Only by means of truth,
Only by means of justice,
Only through empathy,
Only through feeling the other’s pain.

Only through forgiving the unforgiveable,
Through pardoning the unpardonable,
Through excusing the inexcusable – 
Only through our common humanity.

Only through peoples rising up together,
Then speaking truth to power,
Only through declaring that enough is enough.
Enough of war,
Enough of violence,
Enough of suffering,
Enough of sorrow and grief.

At this crucial point of choice,
At this turning point of destiny,
Surely our children,
Surely our children’s children
Deserve no less than this:
To live in peace together.


Not in Our Name

Written in response to a video, shared on YouTube:

In my name, I want no vengeance – Michal Halev, a mother whose son was killed in this conflict – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERjkto7g4U4

The mothers, the grandmothers
Carry each generation in their wombs,
They nurse, they cherish,
They love, they sacrifice,
They support, they comfort and console
In the hearths of home and community,
Their hearts aglow with warmth,
Their eyes shining with radiant kindness.

But now they can only weep and wail,
Their sons lie lifeless before them
In pools of seeping blood,
Their lives shattered,
Their hearts wrenched in agony.

Who will hear their piercing screams?
Who will hearken to their searing cries?
Who will listen with their souls ajar?

Between their heaving sobs,
Angels of Peace alight on their shoulders,
Whispering oh so softly in their ears.

“Gentle mothers and grandmothers,
Forgive them for they know not what they do,
Blinded by the rage of oppression and injustice,
Living by the sword, they can only die by the sword,
For violence begets violence,
Hatred begets hatred,
War begets war.”

So dare to declare this unthinkable wisdom:
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Do good to those who hate you,
For love begets love,
Forgiveness begets forgiveness,
Understanding begets understanding –
Such is the strength, the vision and courage of Love.

This dreadful cup of bitterness
We have drained to the dregs
To the depths of our broken hearts.
We cannot wish such crushing anguish
As we have endured to be visited
On other mothers and grandmothers,
Not in our name.

In our name we want no vengeance,
This deadly poisonous pattern
Of reciprocal pain and mutual reprisal
Perpetuated down the echoing centuries,
Not in our name.

We lend our name instead to healing,
We lend our name to care and love,
We lend our name to peace:
Shalom, Salaam, Shalom,
Salaam, Shalom, Salaam.”

With thanks to David Kranz for sharing these poems with us.

Photo by David Tomaseti on Unsplash

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