Online Study tour to Israel and Palestine. Reflection by Revd Susan Brown

Posted Fri, 05/14/2021 - 11:14 by Robert

The CCJ virtual study tour of 2021 was and is a journey into the labyrinthine depths of religious and political pathways in the land of Israel/Palestine. These are pathways that you know lead to the heart of identity and of being for both Jews and Palestinians, but those pathways constantly take unexpected twists and turns that sometimes make the journey clearer and at other times completely and frustratingly, cloud the way ahead and make any ability to reach a single understanding of people, faith and land, feel so elusive.

The social media shorthand used to describe relationships, fits so well in this context.  “It’s complicated”.  Boy, is it complicated!  Understatement alert!

The one thing that is clear is that there are multiple truths and realities. 

There are two incredibly important components to the CCJ study tour.  The companions on the journey and the real-life, experience ridden, stories we were privileged to hear.  The fact that we couldn’t journey together, physically, was a drawback which was, sadly, unavoidable.  I think the conversations over breakfast, the discussions on bus rides and the late, long-into-the-night tussling with the issues, would have added a depth and richness to the experience that the virtual experience just couldn’t offer.  Missing too were the sights, sounds, smells and food of the ‘real’ place.

That said, my husband read through some of the books on the reading list with me which led to many interesting, dinner table exchanges! 

The seminars offered fantastic insight into the various angles those who inhabit the land we call ‘holy’, see and experience their life and the way faith, politics, place, identity, history and gender, shape that experience.  Those we met educated, inspired, moved and scared us.  What they said led to despair and yet offered hope, almost in the same breath.

This journey, for me has only begun. I look forward to it continuing and value the friendship of my companions to keep me travelling on. 

I chose the word ‘labyrinthine’ at the start, deliberately.  In a labyrinth you cannot get lost.  Eventually you will find your way to the centre.  I pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  In every quarter and sense.  There has to be peace.

Very Rev Dr Susan Brown.

Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen in Scotland and Minister of Dornoch Cathedral, Church of Scotland.