Handcuffs at the Convent!

handcuffs at the convent

handcuffs at the convent

Handcuffs on the step just outside the convent where I am staying in Jerusalem. Israeli policemen had been resting there as I had been returning earlier. In fact I had made a joke to the receptionist that they were well guarded. She didn’t laugh!

The Nun's Way

The Nun’s Way

I looked around. There was no one in sight. I bent over and picked them up, cold heavy steel. The only handcuffs I had ever held were  plastic ones the boys got when we were children. These were serious business.

There is always someone watching!

There is always someone watching!

I brought them inside the convent thinking this was the closest place |I could responsibly bring them. The receptionist’s face blanched and she said, ‘police, go out’ I tried to explain but it became very obvious that the handcuffs  weren’t going to spend any time with the receptionist.  I thought … just or a millisecond mind you, that they might make an interesting souvenir….just a millisecond, before I put them back where I found them.

What about a photo! A more appropriate souvenir

handcuffs at the convent

handcuffs at the convent

It needed context. Soooo,  I backed up to get a fuller shot and tripped on the step behind me!

The fall

The fall

In another millisecond, I was being tenderly helped to my feet by a very concerned Israeli policeman.

“Are you OK?”

“I think so,” feeling quite shaken!

Holding, steadying  me, ” Are you sure?

Giving myself a mental check-up; I can stand, I don’t feel sharp pain, ‘Yes, I’m sure!’

In that millisecond before thought, one reached out to another in need  In that moment, lies our true humanity, our relationship to each other.  This is who we are, before we remember what we have been taught.

The next moment for him brought into focus my vest..a symbol of where i stood in the peace process; the next, (a relief, I’m sure,),  the  handcuffs, he hadn’t realized were missing.

At that same moment, I saw an Israeli police officer – a cog in the wheel of a brutal occupation. Maintaining eye contact for a moment longer,  we back away from each other  and go our separate ways

I am left to ponder those in between moments ……opportunities to remember who we really are!

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6 Responses to Handcuffs at the Convent!

  1. Tom Beckett says:

    Very powerful Patricia

  2. Fascinating experience, Patricia, and a nuanced reflection on ‘who we are’ in our humanity and how ‘context’ frames and distorts us.
    thanks for your writing and your witness.


  3. Eileen Kavanagh says:

    If only we could all realize that we are ALL one and that everything we do affects affected everyone else in some way. We’re all on the same web.

  4. Ettie says:

    Your thoughtful reflection captures that wonderful “in-between” moment beautifully – thank you for sharing…

  5. ingeborg.marshall@mun.ca says:

    My dearest Pat: your story about the moment of humanity is beautiful – if only we could keep those moments longer. I am very much looking forward to your return on Wed. Would you like me to meet you at the airport? just let me known your arrival time/flight. But perhaps one of your male admirers has already decided to meet you – that would certainly be appropriate and probably more fun than me!! I hope once you have had some rest you will be able to visit and we can have an extended chat. You said, there was much to tell – so, I am looking forward to that. have some new beer cooled, its not the honey dew because that is no longer available. Sending you much joy and love, Ingeborg

  6. Steve Berube says:

    Thank you so much for this and for your faithful witness and your work for a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

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