Sitting at the other end of our long table at Starbucks were three young women—one from Israel the other two from Palestine—and the brave leader who had brought them together. They had come to the mountains of New Mexico with a group now called Tomorrow's Women, to listen to one another’s stories while also hiking through piñon, painting, dancing, talking into the night, and slowly dismantling the hostilities that come with border crossings. They had become friends.
I asked if they would like to model for a Movement bringing women around the world together and they responded, in a heartbeat, YES. Two days later, Shirit, Aia, and Deema came to my home where together we raided my closet for shoes and jewelry and Ibu jackets. As I watched them take over the dusty road, I thought they were much more than friends. They were making of their friendship a canopy of formidable, sisterly love… for life.
This summer, now nine years later, I learned what Aia and other graduates went on to do back home—such as opening a bilingual, multi-faith daycare for Arab and Jewish children; creating a Runners Without Borders running group for young Arab and Jewish women in Israel; training to be Peace Dialogue Facilitators; starting the first Arab-Jewish book fair at Hebrew University; studying human rights law; working in Intelligence preventing terrorism… and the stories go on, banners of optimism flying over a vulnerable land.
On Saturday morning, like everyone, I felt my aching heart explode to read the searing news, to see missiles shattering, buildings collapsing, dreams dead on the street. In that firestorm, I could not stop holding the faces of these young women—still giving their lives to create a peaceable world.
It is a raw and fierce blessing to know the world through women who hold its terror in their teeth. When prayers have names, when tragedies have faces, when earthquakes have need of us—our world is alive and trembling at our feet. Nothing is virtual. Connection is unfiltered, and real.
I intended to write today about our honored guests from Colombia coming to meet you, and how they dazzle me, how deeply I want you to have the chance to know them. But instead I have told you about young women I met nine years ago, still radiant in my heart.
I do so because I truly believe that when we listen deeply, when we come together to know and understand one another, the world moves one footfall closer to reconciling rather than fire-bombing. It isn't trite. I think it's utterly true. With each global friendship, we are personally richer—yes, of course. But the world is also firmer in its orbit, clearer in its path, bathed in the light of one sun.
So I invite you, implore you, really, for your own sake, to come meet the luminous souls who are coming to us from the four corners of Colombia—no matter where you are—if you can at all find your way to Charleston next month. We will welcome them—and you—into our homes for the kind of intimate connection that will live in your very being for a lifetime and shape your world—like Aia and Deema and Shirit have shaped mine.
It takes all of our hands to weave a canopy wide and strong enough to shelter this shattered world. And when that beauty is torn to shreds, we pick up our shuttle and thread, our resilent needles, along with women all over the world, to mend, and repair.
All the Best,