Rachel

Over the years I’ve bought a few copies of
Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie

But before I got to cracking it open for myself
I would think of a young person who might appreciate it

Someone craving to make a difference–
An artist, a writer, someone willing to go for broke

Someone who, like Chân Không,
Wants to relieve the suffering of others

So I’d put the book in the mail
Or hand-deliver it myself

All these years since it came out
I’ve never read it

I am nevertheless amazed at their strength in being able to defend
Such a large degree of their humanity—laughter, generosity, family-time

But then for several weeks in 2003
I lived in Gaza several months after Rachel Corrie was killed

Her image was everywhere then
People in Rafah welcomed us warmly

When they learned we were with ISM
The same group as Rachel had worked with

I was with a dear friend of Rachel’s from Washington state
We stood silently amidst the rubble

Of yet another Palestinian home just bulldozed
By Israel’s occupation forces

Her face holding her tears in the Ramadan heat
Our hands holding digital cameras to document the destruction

against the incredible horror occurring in their lives
and against the constant presence of death

I recently finished an epistolary novel/collage called Dear Layla
Though Rachel is mentioned only rarely therein

Her presence and passion
Her moxie and courage

Her vulnerability and sparkle
Pervade the story and influence the characters

She enters into the dream world of Sabine Laserstein
Who hears her say, “Come follow me”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about the cost of discipleship
Rachel Corrie embodies the cost of accompaniment

In the broken hearts of her loved ones who ache for her touch
Rachel is dead

In the open hearts of those of us whose eyes slowly  begin to see
Rachel lives

I wish you could meet these people.
Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.

 

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