Lahronda LittleThere is a line in a song that says, “I want to walk like Jesus walked and talk like Jesus talked.”

These words, sung and preached many times, convey tightly held convictions that speak of admiration for Christ and aspiration to obtain the ways of Christ.

After my trip to Israel-Palestine and upon reflection, for me, these words carry an overwhelming weight. The way of Jesus, the way of the Cross is roughly paved with social, environmental, and political matters that profoundly impact all of us to this very day, and will continue to do so for all time. As I listened to Bishop Larry Goodpaster teach the stories I have heard all of my life at the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, the Mount of Olives, and other sacred places, and seeing the thorns that crowned the head of Jesus, “walking like Jesus walked and talking like Jesus talked” no longer sounds beautiful and inspiring. Though philosophically well-meaning, the implications of those words speak of theological wrestling, political unrest, racial bias, and ultimately death.

With the people of Palestine, I experienced much resonance with my own context, but also dissonance that caught me off guard. My senses were overwhelmed with the sights, sounds, and smells of every location, not to mention the intense feelings that were evoked when I encountered and interacted with the people of the land.

We discover a great deal about each other when we are not afraid to ask the tough questions and intently listen to the answers. With that being said, dinner with George and his family was the most intense dialogue I have ever engaged concerning race—and I hope to do more. George is a Palestinian gentleman who shared with us his story of what life is like in Israel-Palestine. The conversation illumined details of which I was completely unaware (but not unfamiliar) concerning employment conditions, lack of access to basic necessities, and suppression of rights. I was shaken by the fact that people are treated so poorly that many want to leave their own land—the place where families have resided for generations. After dinner, I felt both enlightened and sad; connected and disheartened. As I would continue to discover, Israel-Palestine is replete with paradox.

To say that I was extremely affected by Israel-Palestine is an understatement. The region is breathtaking, the socio-geo-political landscape is complex, and the personal narratives are gripping. When I am asked, “How was your trip?” I really want to respond by saying, “How much time do you have?” Because to tie the trip in a nice, neat, biblical bow, I believe, is an injustice to the work of Christ.

“Come and See, Go and Tell” was the theme of our pilgrimage. As I continue to reflect on the experience and glean insights, I will share those lessons in hope to foster healing in the places that hurt—and that is everywhere.

Top photo: "These are the thorns that crowned Jesus's head. They come from a tree called Zyziphus spina-christi." -Lahronda

Photo of Lahronda by Rocky Major.