Like me, you may be finding the Israel-Gaza crisis unbearable. There is so much anguish in the atmosphere, and most of us have a gnawing sense of helplessness. So how can we live with intolerably painful situations like this? There are no easy ways, but I’d like to share my experience.
Life these days presents us with a steady stream of intolerable crises, such as the climate emergency, covid and Ukraine. Israel-Gaza feels more extreme, because there is so much cruelty, and it’s a long-running, apparently insoluble situation.
What I find helpful is to feel the pain of the crisis in my heart, rather than push it down and pretend it’s not there. And while holding that pain, hard as it is, I pray: for peace, reconciliation, healing. Whilst I’ve never been in anything near so awful as this, in my own crises I have felt some comfort from knowing that others felt with me and were praying for me.
The other approach I recommend is a collective one. I have led and taken part in many groups using the Work that Reconnects process, created by Joanna Macy. She believes that our pain is helped a lot if we can voice it and be witnessed in a group, and I’ve repeatedly found this to be true.
There is also power and comfort in collective prayer. This weekend, I went to the service in a small village church near me, Cusop: the prayers were a heartfelt shared call for healing in the Middle East, and the sermon and hymns gave me comfort. You might like to check out this hymn: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, forgive our foolish ways…
Often in a major crisis like this, we each carry our pain alone: probably because we don’t think it’s appropriate to name it to others. I urge you to take a chance, and try sharing your feelings, at least with a few people. It could help all of you.