Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jean Brown reports:

On a recent Saturday I went by skype from my desk in South Australia into a sitting room in an apartment block in Damascus. I was joining a group of women who had recently finished a Creators of Peace Circle. Once reassured that there were no men near my computer, they could relax and we could look at each other and share some of the experiences they had had from the Circle and some of their plans for what next. They shared about the trust they are finding, the new relationships, how to care for their families. They want to continue to meet and share and are planning to visit an orphanage together, maybe on a regular basis to care for the children. It is something new for them and they are excited.

Iman al Ghafari The Circle was drawn together by a remarkable young teacher, Iman, who had met Creators of Peace and Initiatives of Change when living in Canada. Now back at home in Syria she is determined to gather groups of women together to share the Peace Circle experience. This particular group were all women living in or near the same apartment block. This helped on the days when it was not safe to move around outside. The first Circle she tried was with just three women – attendance was always haphazard depending on the situation that day. She will soon start a third Circle with other women who are asking for it.

Iman and I skype most days, her passion is palpable:

‘But how to find peace when hearts are full of anger. Fear and distrust are everywhere. Are we going to witness tomorrow? One night my 22 year old sister, before going to bed, asked me to forgive her for anything she had done to hurt me, fearing of not living till the next day. She inspired me when she asked for forgiveness. Death can be faced any time but sometimes we get more aware when death is so close. Do we forgive each other and get forgiven or do we hold on to our pain, sorrows, anger and hatred leaving the picture incomplete? Why do we remember forgiveness only when we are about to leave not while we are alive.

‘ When I was in Canada I learned about Creators of Peace Circles while being surrounded with peace. Canada was preparing me for the future in the Middle East but I didn't know that then. I learned to be objective and to find peace in myself before searching for it in others. I learned to accept differences. Also I learned that change starts from the inside before we point at others. I learned a lot of valuable methods about creating peace and using it across the divides. That was very precious and important.

‘And now I am living surrounded by real conflict. How does it feel to learn about peace when you're surrounded by peace and how does it feel to participate in a Creators of Peace Circle while experiencing war, anger and seeing blood around you. How to practice what we thought we'd believed in. I asked God to help me share what I learned, to change my heart to the better and use me to help others. I don’t know if we will wake up the next day alive or dead but I know that if I wake up I want to tell my people that we need to build peace. There is no way but listening with consciousness, compassion and values. I heard myself many times saying we HAVE TO listen to one another, we HAVE to find a way to communicate before we lose more and more people.’

Iman’s voice echoes around the safe space of my South Australian home while little angry exploding icons, broken hearts and bear hugs appear on my screen.

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