|Friday, 11 March 2011 23:00|
"Where Are My Dreams?"
by Nitsan Gordon
“In Taoist thinking, the darkest moment of the night or the most devastating place, is the time or place most ready for transformation.” --- Lily Yeh, in Moonrise The Power of Women leading from the Heart
It was just another early Saturday morning in a Kibbutz in the Negev near Gaza. Liry, Silvia (two Beyond Words facilitators) and Ann Bradney (www.annbradney.com) woke up and were getting ready for breakfast when the bombs fired by Hamas from Gaza, began falling. At first the noise seemed far away and they debated whether to go to the bomb shelter. Suddenly they heard a huge explosion which sounded like it was next door. They jumped up and ran to the same safe place that others in the kibbutz were rushing towards. Shaking and laughing hysterically they cuddled next to each other in the bomb shelter trying to figure out what to do.
During the last two days the four of us (I had left the evening before to get ready for my house move) led a workshop for 20 Bedouin women leaders from villages and towns located less than an hour away. This day was supposed to be the concluding meeting and the three of them still felt exhausted from the incredible emotional volcano that had erupted the previous day.
So much pain had been shared, so many tears cried that at moments it seemed like it would never end. Each sobbing woman was held in the arms of at least one other woman. Looking around, the room resembled an emotional healing emergency room where painful stories held inside for so long were finally being shared in the loving arms of women who understood and cared.
This workshop was the culmination of two weeks of Radical Aliveness/ Beyond Words workshops for Jews, Arabs and Palestinians throughout the country. During the first week Anna Timmermans director of the Core Energetics school in Holland joined Ann Bradney director of the Radical Aliveness* school in Los Angeles for the workshops in the Galilee. The workshops were geared towards introducing more people in this part of the world to the Beyond Words and Radical Aliveness approaches and to recruiting participants for a three years facilitator’s course due to begin in October 2011 (see info below.)
For two weeks we traveled from Mgrar and Zefat in the North, through Beit Jalah in the Occupied Territories and all the way down to this Kibbutz near Gaza in the South. We worked with about 120 women and men – Druze, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Israeli and Palestinian, secular and religious in eight different workshops. We met people who wanted to heal, to relate better to themselves and each other, to feel more love and joy, to be more alive and open, more connected to their hearts. We met people who want to end this incessant conflict inside and around them and finally live in Peace.
On Thursday morning we drove from Jerusalem arriving in the afternoon for the workshop with the Bedouin women leaders. After a relaxing opening exercise we asked the women to introduced themselves and share what they would like to receive from their time with us. Women talked mostly of courage, some mentioned relaxation and time for themselves and then the last woman spoke.
She said: “I want my dreams back. Where are my dreams????? Please give me back my dreams …. I want my dreams….”
All at once the room erupted and everyone seemed to be involved. Some were crying, while others just joined the chorus saying over and over: “Where are our dreams? … we want our dreams.”
A beautiful dark thirty-eight-year-old mother of eleven children began to speak. She told the story of standing up courageously against her entire tribe. She told about how she loved school and studying and how one day when she was sixteen her books and school pack were burned by her family because she refused to marry her cousin. Although they did not let her go back to school she did not change her mind. Then, when she was eighteen she chose her husband and fought for permission to marry him because she recognized in his eyes a pain similar to her own-- his first wife had died from cancer and he was left with three young children. Years later while in her early twenties she left that same husband taking her three young children because she felt so betrayed when he took a second wife. She only agreed to return to him a few months later when he divorced this wife and now while many years had passed still feels the pain of that betrayal.
Another woman told us how she loved nature and had a special tree that was precious to her (there are not many trees in the desert area where she lives). This beautiful tree grew in front of her house and she cared for it every day, watering it, touching it and sitting underneath it. One day when she was sixteen she returned home from school and noticed the house looked different. Something was missing. There was a feeling of emptiness. There was too much light. Then it dawned on her. Her tree was gone. It had been chopped off.
Later she found out that her mother had been angry because she had refused to marry the man intended for her and so she asked her son to destroy the one thing her daughter loved so much -- the beautiful tree. This woman never married.
Ann asked the women to beat the foam cube with the tennis racket, to give a sound to their pain, a voice to their tears. While hitting and screaming they seemed to begin recovering their strength and the belief in their own worthiness.
At one point a woman cried: “Mother, mother, I need you mother!!!! Why have you left me? Why have you betrayed me? Why are you allowing them to do these things to me? --- mamma, I need you… mamma….” A new wave of pain seemed to wash over the room as we all called out to our mamas…
Lina (not her real name), a large woman, seemed so sad and despondent. Before she even spoke the other women whispered in our ears stories about how she had been beaten by her husband. When she finally shared her story in a very soft voice, she told us that she was beaten by this husband until finally she reported him to the police and he was no longer able to live in the house with her and their children. Two years later she went back to him. Now he was beating their children and she did not have the courage to stop him. Ann asked if she would like to work. She said yes and stood up. With our encouragement she started hitting the foam cube with the tennis racket yet no voice came through. Everyone stood up to encourage her and scream with her. Slowly I could hear her voice rise among the rest. It was not quite a shout or a scream but it was much louder than before. She said “NO, Stop it!!! You will not hit them anymore…”
Sometimes it seemed like the pain being released and wounds healed in this room belonged not only to those present; it was the pain of generations and whole communities.
When two of the Bedouin group facilitators also joined the crying adding their own pain to the rest, some of the other women became nervous. What is wrong? They wondered. Were their leaders falling apart? What would they do without them? Ann explained that we are now witnessing a new type of leadership. It is a leadership that exists within each of us. It is a leadership whose time has come and whose power is based not on physical strength, manipulation and the oppression of others, but rather on the courage and willingness to feel everything and to be vulnerable and authentic.
So on Saturday morning when Liry, Silvia and Ann sat in the bomb shelter, confused and shaky not knowing what to do, the door suddenly opened. Three of the Bedouin women they had worked with the day before came in like angels to rescue them. One hugged Liry who was trembling with fear. Later this woman shared how much she loved Liry and wanted to comfort her and yet at the same time how sad and angry she felt about the pain of the Palestinians suffering in Gaza. Another woman who came in was Lina, the woman who had difficulty finding her voice the day before. When she saw how scared these three women were she laughed and said: “Look at me all of you, I am now working on facing my fears. What’s the matter with you? If it’s your day to die you will die… Now let’s get out of here!!!!”
They looked at her with utter amazement finding it hard to believe this was the same woman from the day before. Encouraged by their Bedouin angels they left the bomb shelter and drove away to hold the meeting in a place near Tel Aviv where at least the mortar fire could not reach them.
In the closing circle women shared how much the day before had meant to them. And the woman who had lost her dreams said she now found one…. She wanted to learn how to do this work so she could do it with other women.
|Last Updated on Friday, 13 May 2011 14:04|