Thursday, June 13, 2013

the tree of life on my morning path

The other day I went for a morning walk upstream McVicar's Creek. I went with my friend Lilian Mattar Patey. I first bicycled to Shuniah Knox United Church, where Lilian is interim minister, to meet her. We then walked north through the neighbourhood, behind Balsam Pit and along Margaret Street to reach the trail by the creek. Along the path, we saw a bunch of marsh marigolds ringing a swamp. Swamps always catch my eye as 'swamp' or 'bog,' which translate to 'suo' in Finnish, is in the very name of Finland in the Finnish language: Suomi. A few steps later on our path, we saw this amazing tree in someone's backyard. It was shining in the morning light; there was no missing it. The tree reminded me of the comforting and desirous beauty of the Tree of Life. It's sheltering arms, perfect symmetry, expansive canopy, circular space, and dusting of white flower petals caught our eye.  
Continuing on our way, we saw this pile of huge stones. I told Lilian that in Suomenusko, the old Finnish beliefs before Christianity came to Finland, stones as well as trees were seen to have spirits. People conversed with stones and trees for healing and for wisdom, going out into the forest for the medicine of trees and stones. Of course, stones and trees have been symbolically important to many peoples and cultures. I told Lilian, well, I don't need to tell a Palestinian like you of the importance of stones. Today stones are the remnants of the Palestinian houses that Israel has destroyed and demolished. Palestinian youth take up stones as resistance against occupation. Indeed,  a new documentary called The Stones Cry Out uses the metaphor, reality, and spiritual strength of stones to tell the story of the ongoing Nakba of Palestine, focusing on its Christian population and heritage.
Lilian's family story is part of the larger dispossession of Christians from Palestine. In the short 6 m. video above you can hear Lilian tell some of the story of her family's displacement from Palestine. She was born in Haifa, but because of the Zionist militia takeover in 1948 her family was forced to flee and found refuge in Al Quds / Jerusalem; however, they eventually met more tragedy. By telling her family's story, Rev. Mattar Patey hopes that people will broaden their understanding of the Palestinian heritage of what is now called  Israel. In 1948, Jerusalem was designated an international administration zone yet, as Lilian's story is an example, since 1967 Israel has taken large parts of it by force and today by demolition and the continuing displacement of Palestinians from East Jerusalem. Since burying her father, Lilian has not been back to her home.


Merche Pallarés said...

Loved that tree and your friend's family Palestinian history. Very, very interesting. Hugs, M.

Judy Martin said...

I was in Finland in May and June, and we walked over the many swamps. I too am Finnish Canadian - found your blog by researching the rugs from finland.

Judy Martin said...

We used the long narrow boardwalks provided for swamp walking - they reminded me of rugs.

best wishes

Merche Pallarés said...

Taina, how are you??? So long without your news... I hope you and your family are all well and if you read this, I wish you all the best for these holidays and a very Happy New Year 2014. Much love, M.

P.S. Are you in Facebook???