Receiving a call from someone we don't know, who asks us to come because there is or was a problem, is always interesting. It's a challenge because it usually involves getting directions to a place where there are no road signs or obvious landmarks to direct us. Usually it involves navigating through a serious of valleys, hills, orchards, and plowed fields; asking everyone we see to point us in the right direction.
When we finally arrived, after taking the long way around, we saw a shepherd near the area where we thought we were headed.
The shepherd called out to us, "You are from the peace team?"
"Yes we are."
"Good, good, come here to photograph what the settlers did."
The man was shepherding a flock of about 40 sheep. He proceeded to lead us into a cave, seemingly naturally formed, that wormed its way into a large chunk of rock and gradually descended several feet. At the base of the cave was a pool of water, which the shepherd called an 'ayn (a ground spring). He showed me that the settlers had filled the majority of the 'ayn with rocks which prevented him from drawing water for his sheep and goats. The man and his son had taken many of the rocks out already in order to draw water from the shallow 'ayn that remained.
He then led me outside to the hod (watering trough). The hod was just outside the entrance of the cave, and sat below a narrow channel of rock into which buckets are water were poured. The channel acted as a natural water slide, directing the drinking water into the trough. The trough had been constructed of cement and rocks. Now, it was useless, destroyed by settlers.
The army had come at his request to look at the damage that was done. The army said they could do nothing for him because they had no idea how his 'ayn and hod were destroyed. The army said he could have damaged them himself, they had no idea. "Why in hell would I destroy my own 'ayn and hod, how insulting to suggest that to me."
The man had loaded up a plastic basin onto his donkey and brought it with him, to replace the cement trough which had been destroyed. He set up the basin and poured the first bucket of water into it, but it tipped over and the water spilled uselessly across the rock. "You see, the hod works much better." The man stood up and shook his head. "Why would they do this? It's water. You need water, I need water, the settlers need water, and the sheep need water. The whole world needs water and the 'ayn and hod were how I provide water for the sheep. Why would they do this?"
But life goes on here in Palestine, albeit amidst heartache, frustration, and pain. The shepherd eventually filled the basin, bucket by bucket, and the sheep were able to get water, water that sustains life. I pray that water contains to sustain life here, and that the courage to maintain hope sustains resistance to injustice.