The path will be hard, obscured by clouds and fog so thick you see nothing all around you. But when you least expect it, the swirling clouds part and the shimmering city shines through. It was there all along. Vibrant. Real. And even when you cannot see it, especially when you cannot see it, trust, remember, and know it is there.
This time, the reminder comes as I am flying cross-country, looking down on the blanket of clouds that reach the horizon. Suddenly, an opening, and the city shines below, twinkling with white snow.
The first time I saw it was the day I fell in love with the man who is my husband. We drove up the switchback road to Windy Hill, a clear ridge-top vista overlooking the San Francisco Bay on one side and the ocean, in the distance, on the other. Fog rushed around us. He lent me a warm down jacket from China to keep me warm. I held his hand as we started down a new path for both of us, in a place we had never been before. Clouds moving fast, cold, and they suddenly opened to show the city below. Closing again as if it was never there. Then opening again. Amazing. Breathtaking.
I chose a difficult path for work (maybe for love too). There are so many times when it seems as if the city is a mirage that cannot exist. There are so many times when my dream feels like a mirage. I dream of rebuilding whole neighborhoods in war zones, helping families transform broken homes, broken lives into neighborhoods the world will keep safe.
Then the clouds open for a moment, with a glimpse of the reality I know: a family plans for their new home, brave and determined to rebuild, not be destroyed. People around the world support them, a building project, and then an opening ceremony. They move in … I hold my breath, along with thousands who made this possible and celebrate with them. Dreams made real.
Soon the home we are building in Gaza will be ready, first in the Rachel Corrie Rebuilding Campaign in Gaza. It is a new home for the family the late American, Rachel Corrie, sought to protect when she stood before the Israeli Army bulldozer that threatened them. 2200 homes were demolished in that Rafah, Gaza neighborhood, now but an empty field, a no man’s zone of buried rubble where a densely populated and thriving Palestinian neighborhood once stood.
It is hard to build one home when so many are homeless: these are clouds I face. And yet what I know, what I hold on to, are the visions of others that have proved viable. Wangari Maathai’s Nobel Prize shows the value of planting one tree to restore a forest. Planting one leads to planting more, tens of thousands planting, taking initiative, restoring a forest, finding their voices and courage in the process. Peacemaking can be like that … building homes and schools to overcome trauma, restore a neighborhood, and push forward policies to keep them safe.
Thus, dreams made real—a home is nearly finished. Come help us celebrate by joining a House Warming Teleconference with the Gaza family Rachel Corrie sought to protect. You can call into the teleconference from your home, or gather your friends and join us via speakerphone. Please register soon.