I am lying on the sand and stone of the Judean desert, on top of a foam mattress. It’s too hot to have even the thinnest cover over me. A very bright full moon lights the sky, and insects fill the air with their calls.
In the distance, I hear the sounds of the desert highway – the odd car or truck comes rumbling by.
It is one minute past midnight of Day One. The Peace Camp that I have travelled out here to facilitate and be a part of starts in earnest in 16 hours. Local Palestinians, Israelis and participants from overseas will be gathering here to spend six days and nights together, exploring loss, grief, anger and life. The whole team who is hosting the event has already arrived: we came in a minibus from Tel Aviv, full to the rafters with luggage, tents, pillows, vegetables and leftovers from a glorious Passover dinner the night before.
The Peace Camp has been in the realm of dreams since the idea first landed last summer, and yet it has become completely real and grounded into the material world since we arrived here seven hours ago. So many generous donations from so many people around the world helped to make our travel possible, and provide bursaries for the local participants to gather, along with hiring translators to help everyone understand one another. A wave much larger than any single one of us carried this idea into creation. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
This ground upon which I lie is accessible to both Palestinians and Israelis, which is a rare thing indeed. Both nationalities are able to come here and spend lengths of time together. And people from all around the world can also come. It does not look like much, a patch of dry earth by the desert highway with an Eco-community initiative on it, funded entirely by donations, but it is the common ground on which we can all stand.
And, for now. sleep under the starry desert skies.