Grace Pilgrimage 2007

An Adventure in Consciousness

October 12th in Eilat, Israel saw the beginning of the Grace Pilgrimage 2007 led by Benjamin von Mendelssohn and Sabine Lichtenfels. 130 people spent 29 days walking together and carrying all their own equipment from Eilat, through the Arava desert, up to the Dead sea, into the West Bank, on to Bethlehem and arriving in Jerusalem. By the time we reached Jerusalem we were 170 people.

The 2 main aims of the pilgrimage for the PRV were:

  • to begin the search for the location of the future PRV in the Middle East through the art of collective spiritual guidance. The vision of the PRV becomes evermore concrete and together with further building up the core group the location for the project becomes a more burning issue.
  • to bring more and more people to Israel/Palestine to witness for themselves this conflict area and, through the art of pilgrimage, to discover and experience the tools needed to contribute to a positive transformation of this area and the world.

While we did not find the location for the future PRV we met a number of people along the way who had a similar vision, or locations that come close to what would be needed for the realistic build up of a functioning research project.

The first phase of the pilgrimage, through the Arava desert, brought us in close contact with a number of Kibbutz (Samar and Neot Smada) and the deeper intentions of the Kibbutz movement. Again it is shown how many of us, as human beings, have a deep longing for social models based on truth and trust, and how necessary it is to use the platforms already built by earlier pioneers to go into research that comes closer to answering our very human questions.

A visit to the eco-village Lotan, prominent members of the Global Eco-Village Network, also gave a more concrete possibility for future cooperation projects.

The desert also gave us the possibility to intimately work on the process of inner peace within a political context. It is a perfect environment to examine and understand how we can be the change we want to see in the world, how our inner structures are often based on a system of violence that we, as peace initiators, are so determined to dismantle in the external world. It starts here, now, with me, was a first step for each walker.

This concentration on the inner work was also good preparation for entering the West Bank – a very concrete example of the effects of occupation and oppression. It is here that we can be most challenged not to step into judgment or identification with the most obvious victim for example, but instead to understand the situation as a product of a global system that needs healing.

Towards Bethlehem we stayed in a project called the ‘Tent of Nations’, a project squeezed between 2 settlements whose aim is to create a place welcome to all nations.
Common to many areas in the West Bank, the Tent relies on a small generator for electricity and has to collect water from elsewhere. After our time there we have decided, in cooperation with the Tent, the Holy Land Trust and the Grace Foundation, to run a month community course and installation of solar energy. There will be more information on that soon.

On the 09th November, the day after arriving into Bethlehem, we undertook a night meditation at the wall near to the Aida refugee camp. Led by Sabine Lichtenfels and connected to over 65 peace initiatives around the world, the meditation was a time of powerful vision for both the world and the human being to exist without the need for walls and barriers. After the meditation we then went through the checkpoint and on to Jerusalem where we finished with a concert by Yair Dalal and Avi Agababa.