Kevin Beebe is spending a year in the Holy Land through the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program. In this recent entry from his blog, Walking in Faith, he writes about seeing God in the faces of the people around him. To support Kevin, or others in the program, go here.
I have been thinking a lot about places and people in which/whom I see God. I can get weighed down some days, and looking for God helps me to push through the harder days. For instance, today was a beautiful day here in Ramallah. The temperature climbed to a warm 60-degree day, and the sun was shining. It was a day to sit outside with my host mom watching the two little girls run around the garden while we sipped Arabic coffee. I saw God in the face of my 3-year-old “niece” who has taken to running up to me and wrinkling her nose at me until I bend down and do the same to her. She cracked an almond and handed it to me. I received mostly pieces (3-year-olds smashing almond shells with rocks aren’t always good at it), but she made sure to hand me each piece. That was God during that hour.
I saw God in the face of the man that weighs the vegetables at my local grocery store. Though we see each other weekly, he is always surprised when I speak just a few simple phrases in Arabic. His smile could fill a room of hearts with warmth.
I saw God in the excitement of three of my Model UN students when they were informed they would be going to Sweden in May for a conference. (The program simulates the U.N. General Assembly.) It was as if their work was paying off and this was the pinnacle of their MUN involvement. It boiled over into one student pounding on my door after school to talk about the trip.
God appeared in the members of my home church, Hope Lutheran. Many stopped today to ask how I am. It was the first time many have tried to speak to me, be it in Arabic or English. Just sharing the little we have of each other’s languages made us grow closer.
God often appears in the faces of the English-speaking congregation. Two Ohio pastors that go out of their way to make me feel their love and care. And I could not forget their two kids. Kids that keep me smiling and laughing as we talk about board games, “Star Wars,” and anything else that comes to mind.
I see God in the hurt and pain of a nation that is denied its rights. I see God in the anger when a young boy is shot and killed and in the eyes that glance upward as a warplane streaks across the sky above.
Some people always look up when they pray. Others close their eyes and clasp their hands as tightly as they can. These days I am trying to look around me. God is here. God is not hanging out on some distant cloud listening to God’s iPod. God is not turning a blind eye to the world. God is actively participating in creation; working feverishly to heal, reverse and witness. It is helping me to look around and know that God is here in Palestine and with the Palestinian people every day. Violence here, and anywhere in the world, will come to an end some day. Maybe it will take people looking around and actually seeing the people around them. Maybe it will take people taking time to see and welcome those they pass on the street. Maybe it will take us seeing God in the face and soul of the other.
Maybe it will take all of us turning to one another and being able to truly say, “I see you.”