Between Monday and Tuesday the four of us left Lebanon, after five weeks of living the small community. In the next days each one of us will try to write a personal reflection to conclude this experience. Here is mine:
Since we were going into a different culture, from the beginning we had to be humble in many senses. We were often told that we didn’t know anything about Lebanon and the Middle East, that we were too naïve. Many times this was said regarding the relations among religious groups, or also regarding the power carried out by Occident in the region. So we had to find a balance between accepting that we truly didn’t know much about the Middle East and at the same time not losing our believes –believes that peace, reconciliation, trust, forgiveness are good and possible. The fact of having been deeply hurt makes the different groups mistrust one another. Although I can understand it, this was not easy for me to see, especially from the Christians. Listening to Lebanese people talking about themselves -their history, their plural society, the Occidental influence- made me understand peace, reconciliation, trust and forgiveness deeper in their meaning and challenges.
Something similar, although not that hard, happened to us when we wanted to share about Taizé and ecumenism. We quickly understood –and respected- that ecumenism was not in the horizon of the Christian communities we met, and also that for them Taizé was not interesting nor a meaningful point in their path of faith as it is for us. I think we still were a sign for them: a sign of interest and respect for their communities and traditions, a sign of shared faith. In regard to our prayers, we observed that they were not a need for the Christian community that was welcoming us, never came more than five people. However, we wanted to make them significant for those who were coming, and for those who were not but knew that this was happening, and I think we did.
Another point we had to deal with was the question of giving and receiving, of how we could concretely live solidarity. We often felt powerless and passive, both in the activities or teaching with children and in the visits to families. We knew that presence and being is already important, but this answer was not always satisfying. In another level, I also became more aware of the power relations among countries and peoples and of international aid –UN, NGOs, etc.
All in all, the experience of the small community in Akkar has widened my world. It is not always easy to leave previous ideas behind and let us transform ourselves, but I think that is what we all four did. I have accepted my and our limitations and ignorance, I have been touched by hospitality and faith, I have tried to live simplicity of heart and solidarity. I think that real knowledge comes from the concrete experience, and that knowledge leads to action and hope. So I believe that my hope has grown, that my heart and prayer are now closer to those in trouble and to those divided, and that I am more and more able to live in solidarity.