prayer candles, Church of the Nativity, BethlehemWell. Finally, after a year and a half of planning, praying, and preparing, it’s time to go to Bethlehem to teach painting.  Up till today, it’s been something I was going to do “soon”: after the other things, all the other things, so many other things. But the other things have happened, been accomplished, gone by. And in the past couple days I’ve been getting moments of startling clarity when I realize that in 48 hours it will be time to go “Now.”

Am I ready? No. I will never be ready.  There will always be another class to take, another skill set to learn, a few more paintings to paint.  There is no “ready”.  This idea is bigger than I am. The need is greater than I can meet. The job is bigger and the situation more challenging than I am up to.  Like all painters I know, whether they are world-renowned or just hobby artists, I am not as good a painter as I want to be. I don’t have all the answers. This could be seen as a problem.

Instead, I choose to see it as an opportunity. It is an opportunity for me to recognize that by myself I would not have brought myself to this point.  That I am now poised to make this trip is testament to the fact that Someone Greater than me is working things out. As Stephen Quiller is fond of saying, and I am quoting him out of context here, we are just participating in something greater than ourselves. It is good to remember that I am not in control and that my lack of perfection is not the issue. In fact, we are all beginners in the face of the beauty of the world, the beauty of our existence, the beauty of our ability to relate to each other and the pathos of those moments when we face our imperfections and inabilities head-on.  We will be beginners together in a new little bit of dialogue and encounter.

There is an amazing ministry going on in Bethlehem, a ministry that seeks to offer conversation, presence, opportunity and hope to people, and I have been invited to share with these people some moments of mutual learning.  God is good to me and I am deeply humbled to join the people of Bethlehem in this journey.  I’ll try to post some reflections here in the course of the visit.

God bless all. Salaamat.


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