Today we went to Kfar Bar’am, an old Maronite village in the northern hills of Israel. In 1948, during the Nakba (catastrophe), when Israel declared independence, it was cleared by the army. The residents were told they could come back in a week, maybe two. But that never happened. It was eventually settled by kibbutzniks, and then, when they established their kibbutz on the next hill, the village was bombed so its residents could never return. Many fled to Lebanon.
The events of the village’s destruction and the fate of some of its residents is movingly described in Elias Chacour’s book ‘Blood Brothers’, a book well worth reading. But as I am learning, no one story contains the whole truth. Or maybe more precisely, there are as many truths as there are witnesses. And their descendants.
It’s never simple.
We attended the service at the church which has since been restored, and there were parts of the liturgy so hauntingly beautiful they reduced me to tears.
How awesome is this moment, O my beloved.
The Holy Spirit will descend from heaven
and overshadow this offering,
prepared for our sanctification.
Wandering around the ruins of the village after was equally moving, though for different reasons. Here are a few photos.
Remain in peace, O holy altar of God,
I hope to return to you in peace.
May the offering I have received from you forgive my sins
and prepare me to stand blameless
before the throne of Christ.
I know not whether I will be able to return to you again
to offer sacrifice.
Guard me, O Lord, and protect your holy Church,
that it may be the way to salvation and the light of the world.