As I was about to complete high school, I remember watching footage and seeing photos of jubilant people clambering over what was once the Berlin Wall and taking chunks of cement as souvenirs. At the time I did not understand what this really meant for the people of Germany or what they had been through in the previous four decades. My recollection is only the smiles of joy and the moments of reconciliation. Little did I know that, in my life time, I would see another wall, twice as high and four times longer, constructed for similar reasons in another part of the world. In my travels to Israel and Palestine Territories last August I saw the monstrous wall of separation and heard stories of its impact upon the people.
Growing up in the Uniting Church I always knew I was a part of the ‘one holy, catholic and apostolic church’ but never understood really what that meant and how it applied to my life. Recently I have had the opportunity of representing the Uniting Church in Australia as a delegate at the World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly in Busan, South Korea, from 30 October–8 November.
To celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary and my 60th birthday, my husband wanted a surprise party to be arranged for me and I had made it clear that a holiday away would be best for both of us. So, a surprise holiday it was to be. And I was about to discover what it was like having no control over a future event.
Our history is rich with courageous acts: from deciding to make our lives together in the first place, to leaving our homeland behind and coming to Australia, living in mining towns, moving overseas to Malaysia, and back here as a fly-in fly-out family. Having found ourselves in some weird and wonderful places, I was very aware of what this ‘surprise holiday’ could mean.
When I told people I was going to the Holy Land, those who had already been there told me I would never be the same again. In Israel, I was where Jesus was – where he was born, walked, talked, taught, healed, preached, died and rose again. The experience was real and surreal: collapsing 2000 years of history from Jesus’ human life on this earth into 21st century Israel.