Easter is a Resurrection Process. While the event itself stands by itself the death, agony and suffering that precede it are all part of the process. We cannot understand Resurrection and celebrate Easter without reflecting on the events that led to it. This is why in the midst of agony, suffering and the fear of the unknown, Resurrection reminds one of the miraculous overcoming that can happen against all odds.
This has been a particularly harsh winter in Palestine and the Holy Land. We are all so glad to see Spring arriving and to have the assertive phenomenon of the Red Poppies springing all over the hills of Jerusalem. Wherever you travel from Hebron and Bethlehem in the South to Nazareth and Galilee in the North and from the hills of Jericho in the East, where shepherds hurriedly invite their herds to partake of the wild shrubberies before the Sun wastes them to the outskirts of Jaffa on the Mediterranean, Red Poppies are a reminder of resurrection, hope and reassertion of life.
Palestinians and Israelis have for long been experiencing a process of dying inside. This process has taken numerous shapes and forms primary examples of which are the separation barrier; the Gaza war and the inability to seriously start the needed reconstruction; the voting patterns of Israelis that indicate insecurity by many; the illegal Israeli settlements and their continuing expansion; the division of Palestinians and their inability to come together; the regional turmoil and the collapse of states and the deadlock in the peace process and the frustration by so many that there is no exit out of the continuing conflict.
Red Poppies challenge the sadness and the absence of hope that so many of us feel. So does Resurrection as it reminds us that after Crucifixion the ultimate is to rise again and to affirm life and its promise over death and its darkness. Red Poppies appear out of the land that has been soaked and that has not seen the sunshine for the winter months with their dark clouds and wailing winds. So the darkness that involves us, Palestinians and Israelis, should evolve out of the hard rocks of refusal, rejection and non-acceptance into the soft Red Poppies that are there for all to share in their simplicity and beauty.
The lesson of Resurrection and the Red Poppies of Spring in the Holy Land is that we cannot rise up again from the current situation of hopelessness and deadlock unless we accept each other; work to ensure that the rights of both peoples are respected and to develop a vision for the future in which sharing is a value to be pursued.
The Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees of the Middle East Council of Churches wishes you a Blessed and Happy Easter.
Dr Bernard Sabella Executive Secretary28 March 2015