An annual love letter to myself

Dear one,

It is time to lay your body down to rest. Offer your torso and legs a bed of wildflowers, your head a soft pillow of grasses. Nearby invite the lichen and mushrooms to hum a quiet winter song: the song of the moss covering the oak trees, the newly running river, the red grey bridge seeing all. It has been a long year.

I am with you. I will be your companion in all seasons, as the spring brings with her the blossoming almond trees and golden red maple leaves, and the summer beckons with strawberries and days…


Today a friend and I were both feeling down, so I proposed we do yoga together over Zoom video.

Can I be honest with you, Melanie? They said.
I don’t want to do yoga right now. I am so angry, I want to hit something.

I responded, kickboxing?

Here is a silly video arising out of that encounter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLCimH5uo-A&feature=youtu.be

It turns out that I too wanted to hit something. I’ve been struggling lately with constriction and anger in my mind, alongside dark storm clouds of fear and dread in my belly. …


Saying yes to life

There’s a line in the Heart Sutra: When there are no more obstacles in the mind, you overcome all illbeing.

Suffering is, because there is no clarity on the nature of interbeing. When I see my teacher in all things, I do not fear missing his physical body. He is here and not here, and is coming and going. I am stuck in the relative truth of being and non-being, and this perception fuels my fear of abandonment and pain.

In the relative truth, I am sometimes paralyzed by the risk of loss — of being hurt and left alone…


The race to submit eight Palestinian visa applications in time for waking up at Plum Village

In two weeks, I will journey with a group of Palestinian and Israeli friends to Plum Village, a Buddhist monastery near fields of clay and sunflowers in southern France. We’ll participate in the Wake Up Earth retreat, a gathering of 600 young people from all over the world, sharing aspirations, meals, and joy for one week in nature. We are deep in the preparation process now.

For Israelis and Americans, the process is simple: request time off from work, book a cheap flight from Tel Aviv, register for the retreat. Preparation is far more muddy for our Palestinian friends, who…


Inclusivity, wise speech and communication, systems change, and taking good care

A recent interaction with an NGO in Bethlehem motivated me to articulate and formalize the beliefs and vision underpinning my work in Palestine.

This set of beliefs will provide a framework for decision-making and clarify my interactions with partner NGOs in Palestine and Israel moving forward.

Inclusivity

  1. Systemic change towards a more equitable and peaceful world requires collective healing — in people on both sides of the line. I aspire to be inclusive in my efforts to build resiliency and peace within populations.
  2. I will respect the right of Palestinian organizations to refuse participation in any project that includes Israeli participants…

My encounters with three women teachers at the European Institute for Applied Buddhism in Germany (and other happy news)

Shelley Anderson. Her shirt declared her belief in a better South. Her story, woven across cultures and conflicts, touched me deeply. Originally from the United States, Shelley moved to the Netherlands and committed her adult life to empowering women towards peace.

In 1997, Shelley initiated the Women’s Peacemakers Program within a larger peace organization, the International Fellowship for Reconciliation. Across decades, she brought together groups of women on different sides of conflict for exchange and training in non-violent conflict resolution. …


Summoning the courage to open our hearts to each other

Ceramic tiles in a junkyard in Bethlehem

Today, I went out into the world looking for twenty pieces of ceramic tile. I had no clue whether any Palestinian in Bethlehem would know what I was talking about, much less have any plain square pieces to sell me. I wandered from my house with one hypothesis, that I would speak to three shopkeepers I know on the main street to get their advice. Maybe they could point me in the right direction.

The first man was the orange juice vendor right next to the famous hummus restaurant Afteem. I ordered an orange juice and hovered next to him…


And other stories from Bethlehem, Jericho, and Jerusalem

I’ve brought you materials to make your own islands, I told the kids, pointing to the giant bag of dirt I had lugged through the shuk of Bethlehem. They lit up. Let’s do it now, they said.

I marveled. They had flat-out refused to imagine islands in their minds, yet every child wanted a plastic container and some dirt to create a real island.

Twenty kids lined up patiently to take containers and to scoop handfuls of dirt. They weren’t picky about getting their hands dirty or pushing for their turn, both of which surprised me. How often do they…


One week in Haifa and Bethlehem

A few days ago, a young Palestinian woman at the laundromat cafe mistakenly put a single walnut into our salad. I bit into the walnut and was immediately aware of the crunch of nut in my mouth. I spit out the mouthful and examined the contents. Anger and indignation arose in my body in waves, alternating with the severe discomfort and itchiness on my tongue and throat. How could this happen? I explicitly told this woman my nut allergy. Why wasn’t she more careful?

Joann asked what it would be like to take my mind off of the allergy for…


Peace and conflict in bus rides and meditation

I was on an Arab bus in Jerusalem when they appeared like shadows from the darkness of night. Two young bodies in drab green carrying machine guns, they bypassed me without a second glance. I, cloaked in the body of an Asian tourist, did not have my American passport on me and showed them a bus ticket as an alternative. They did not care.

They stopped instead at the woman across from me, reviewed her official documents, and then proceeded down the length of the bus, scanning for Arab faces, checking papers. Within minutes, the inspection ended. Everyone had passed…

Melanie Gin

Social entrepreneur, creative, engineer. I like to make things and tell stories.

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