Annual Earthstewards Gathering 2005

Harry Troelstra from the Netherlands, one of the key organizers for the PeaceTrees/Gathering in Bethlehem has been keeping a diary since his arrival in Bethlehem. Here are those entries on a daily basis.

Thank you, Harry, for bringing this event home to so many of us who dearly wish we could be there physically, but for many reasons are not able to attend. You know our hearts and prayers are with you all.

July 24th, 2005

Dear Friend,

Today is Sunday and a day without a programme. I finally had the privilege of sitting down to read my book for some time. And I did it; I sat down to read a book for a while. The book was a delight to read as it intrigues me; it is composed of a series of articles on Humanism and Buddhism. It might help me find answers to questions I have had for a long time.

Well, I think that covers about 80% of the adventures of the day. The second half of the afternoon involved a trip to the old city of Bethlehem with a few others. We walked through the streets window shopping but not looking for anything in particular. We also enjoyed Falafel in a small restaurant on the corner of the square next to the Church of Nativity.

Oops! I had almost forgotten him: we met this Franciscan Monk from the Netherlands on the bus. He was from the monastery next to the church. It is a small world, isn't it?

Second highlight of the day: the traditional gender groups in the evenings. Dear Friend, for the first time my little trick of writing this as though I was only addressing one person, isn't working. Because some of you know what I am talking about and others won't. So I will give you a very brief explanation (and invite you to join an Essential Peacemaking workshop next time one is organised somewhere near you, the gender groups is an aspect of it!).

Let me explain the concept of "The Gender Groups". Twelve of us met at eight fifteen in the evening. We agreed with the women that we would split up for about an hour and that we would meet them again at 9.30. And then, we men went off to another room.

There we explained to two men, who had not been with us before, the idea and the rules in confidentiality of course! The idea is to share whatever it is you want to share. And the group is there to support you, in whatever form that suits your needs. It is that simple and so great!

And the men and women met again at the agreed time. We then sat in two half circles, opposite each other. The events of the two different groups remain confidential. However, the richness of the experience and the process was shared.

The rest of the evening was quiet but strange. There was water flowing out of a pipe at the rear end of the school. But we couldn't find out the cause. Happily enough it stopped after a while. And there was a helicopter relatively close by. We could hear it, but they fly without lights so it wasn't visible. It is somewhat disturbing and spooky. And then we heard that two Israeli's were ambushed and killed in the Gaza Strip. This is deeply saddening news.


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