Connecting Parachute by Amy Austin, 2012 Intern

 
This past summer as an intern I carried with me, all across the country, a white parachute that quickly became filled with messages of peace, love and solidarity to be given to children living under occupation in the West Bank. I used the parachute as an opportunity to discuss with my campers the power of the Holy Spirit, made known to us in the wind we felt while moving the parachute up and down in unison. This holy wind that blows through our lives, this ruah, spirit-wind-breath that we breathe and is breathed by every human being on the planet, connects us all in our struggle for justice.
Throughout my Peace Intern summer I shared stories of the reality many experience daily living under Israeli occupation. I expressed the need to raise awareness and stand in solidarity with Palestinians, Christians and Muslims alike, as well as to pray for peace alongside of our Jewish brothers and sisters.
I told campers that this parachute would be given to Palestinian children as a symbol of our prayers and solidarity with them. Last month I had the pleasure of fulfilling that intention by gifting the parachute to the Friends Girls School in Ramallah, a coed, inter-faith elementary school inside the occupied West Bank.
The teacher recently wrote to tell me:
Thanks again for your wonderful gift, it touched our students’ hearts and souls. We sat around it and each student read one message then they responded to these messages with thankful & appreciative words. They were happy to know that children around the world are thinking of them and wishing them peace. I’m attaching some photos of our students while sitting around the “Connecting Parachute” as we called it, reading the messages and responding to it.    
A “connecting parachute” – what a beautiful thing! I would like to extend a big “thank you!” to all of the incredible campers who shared messages of hope and love on the parachute and sent their prayers and actions for peace along with it. I would also like to thank all the supporters of the Disciples Peace Fellowship for making these connections possible.
It may not seem like much, but really these are the steps we are called to take as Christians and as human beings: to build bridges, to extend love, and to go to the edges of the earth and our communities to recognize the common humanity of those we meet along the way. It is hard for many, including myself, to sustain a hope for a peaceful and just solution to the conflict, but when I see the smiles on these kids’ faces I have to keep believing that God is still a God of justice and our prayers and actions do mean something.
I encourage you all to check out the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (sabeel.org) to learn more about the issues Palestinians face as a result of the Israeli occupation and specifically the hopes and prayers of Palestinian Christians for a just peace.
Salaam,
Amy
peace parachute-1 photo (5)-1 photo (11)-1

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