I know I’ve posted on here and on Facebook some lovely pictures of our new house. And it is indeed beautiful — especially the garden. It is cool and comfortable, and with some love and attention and personal touches, it will feel like home very soon.
But I’ve not been completely honest. Because there is one rather glaring downside to Yakfie. It’s this:
A raw, brutal, cruel building which completely dominates the view from our front balcony. It’s an unfinished hotel which has been there for decades and will simply lie derelict for decades more. It’s absolutely true that if it weren’t there, another hotel would be, but… I hate it. I hate its ugliness. I hate its incompleteness. I hate knowing that if it weren’t there, we would have the perfect view out across the Sea of Galilee.
Oh, of course we angle our chairs, or move to other parts of the patio, or rearrange the beds inside to avoid looking at it. But we always know it’s there, looming, overwhelming the beauty with its hideousness.
And though we’ve been here only a few days, I’ve come to see it’s the perfect analogy for what is happening in this country.
It’s very easy in Tiberias to angle one’s view and turn one’s back on the realities of the occupation. Its ugly structure hovers in the periphery — in the touches of Arabic I hear here and there, in the guns cradled in the laps of young soldiers on the bus, in the bag searches in the shopping centres and cafes. But if one shifts slightly to one side, the raw brutalness of the occupation just about disappears.
The truth, though, is that it looms large. It obscures the beautiful view. It haunts the promised land. It creaks and moans in the night.
Like it or not, it exists. And its existence makes our existence uneasy.
I have a choice. I could spend the next few years here hiding in the garden, reading under the peaceful shade of the olive trees, hanging laundry with that remarkable view of the Sea of Galilee behind, pretending that holiness is beautiful and pure and has reached its fulfilment here and now.
There will be moments when that is tempting. There will be times when that is exactly what I need to catch my breath and gather strength. There will be times when I can provide that brief respite for others who live in the raw ugly brutality of the occupation to catch their breath and gather their strength.
But eventually, if I want to live, I will have to walk out my front door and confront the reality and ugliness of the view.
I have a choice. Others in this land do not. May I never lose sight of that truth.
Lord, have mercy upon us all.