A History

by Anny Vos on January 4, 2014

IsraelEditor’s Note: I normally wouldn’t publish an article such as the one below on this blog. It isn’t because it is a bad article (I very much enjoyed it). Rather, it’s because it is more of a personal history. By publishing it I am setting a precedent that is not the focus of The Spirit of the Scripture: Biblical Interpretation. However, since Anny has already established herself as a valuable contributor to this blog and esoteric Biblical interpretation in general, and because a few readers have asked about her background and personal history, I have decided to publish it. There is much value in this article, and even though it isn’t the focus of this blog, I think it will be appreciated by many. I also realize that 2014 will bring changes to the content of this blog periodically, especially when other contributors enter the equation, and I’m sure that’s a good thing. But I also believe it is important that my readers know Biblical and esoteric interpretation will always be the focus of this blog even if I decide to stray off topic from time to time. That being said, I hope you enjoy.

A History

A remark from one of our commentators made me decide to share some of my personal history with you in order to show you where I am coming from when taking the positions I do in connection with the subject of history.

First of all it should be clear by now that I do not consider the Bible to be a historical account of what happened to the people of Israel during a certain period. It is not. However, that does not necessarily mean that there is no history of the people of Israel in the country which is now called Israel, because I believe there is but that is not important in connection with the esoteric interpretation of the Bible, so I prefer not to address the matter at all in my articles.

In my personal history that is another matter altogether. I already shared part of it in my article Unconditional Love, where I told about my experiences in the church during my formative years from the ages between 10 and 20. Actually what I wrote may have given an impression that is not quite true, apart from the fact that I have always felt free to form my own opinion on everything. As far as doctrinal issues were concerned nothing much happened yet during those years. And it also might not have been the church so much that gave me this opportunity to think freely as our pastor, whom I got to know very well during those ten years. He was an open-minded, loving and understanding man and he was one of those who followed the way of opening his heart to all, which got tested and triumphed during the later years as he got terminal cancer and, even though he had never heard of that process, went very openly through the crucifixion of his ego by describing all he went through and showing all his vulnerabilities and doubts and victories in the final stage of his life. He wrote a book about it with his last strength, which I still cherish. He died at the age of 49 when I was 20.

That is one side of it. During those same ten years I became almost obsessed with the Holocaust because I grew up in the shadow of World War II and lived very close to a synagogue. A synagogue where hardly any Jews ever went to as they had all been taken and deported to the extermination camps. I saw the Hebrew characters on the porch when I passed there on my way to school and I always wondered what they meant. It was the reason for me to choose the optional subject Hebrew in school, even though I did not have the intention to go and study theology after I left school. Then I learned to decipher what those mysterious characters meant: Seek God and live! And seeking and researching I did. It is this that made it possible for me now to do what I am doing in interpreting biblical texts esoterically from the viewpoint of the Hebrew language.

I read, heard and saw just about everything there is available about the period of the Holocaust, even though I was very young in the beginning, only ten years old. I was not made to look at it, like Sparks was, I voluntarily chose to do so out of a feeling of responsibility. It may have been karmic. I did not really feel guilty for what happened, but as I was a Christian, I felt responsible for what was going to happen next. Because although it may have ended with the Holocaust, it had by no means started with it. There proved to be a history of almost 2000 years of stigmatizing, persecution, torture and murder of Jews by Christians. At the very least they were forced to live in ghettos, banned from professions, or chased out of countries. The most nonsensical stories were made up about them in order to justify all that, often instigated by the churches, and if not, then condoned.

This was what made me doubt the doctrines of the church. If things like this could be done in the Name of God by people who said to believe in a loving God, then there must be something seriously wrong with the doctrines of the churches. I did not really have any idea how to go about finding out what was the truth, if the doctrines of the church were not, but I did find a way to do something that would help to improve the relationship between the Christians and the Jews.

Just over fifty years ago a project was started by Christians from Holland, Germany, Switzerland and the USA to establish a Christian village in the north-western part of Israel, in the Galilee, where Christians from all these countries would come and live in daily contact with their Jewish neighbors, who lived in settlements surrounding this village. Something new and totally unheard of was that this village would be absolutely non-missionary. They would start economical projects there (glasshouses, agriculture, later an avocado orchard, a carpenter shop and a guesthouse) in order to contribute to the economy of the then still young state of Israel. After the disaster of 2000 years of preaching the Gospel to Jews, while chasing them away and murdering them, we would listen to them for a change. We would be the minority for a change. The name this village would get came from Isaiah 11:10: And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people …. The name is Nes Ammim, Banner of (or to) the Nations. You can even read it as Miracle of the Nations, which is an interpretation which we ourselves did not use however.

You can imagine how this initiative was received. The Jews in Israel were very skeptical, to say the least (apart from the ones who had been part of the development of these ideas) and the churches were indignant about the non-missionary part. Still, in Holland and Germany there were churches (including mine) who supported this initiative and organizations were formed to finance and support it. In Switzerland and the USA organizations were also formed but by individuals only and the non-missionary side of it proved too much and they pulled out after a couple of years. There were still American and Swiss individuals coming though.

I myself went there in 1971. It was very challenging, to say the least. Not only did we get to meet Jews, there also proved to be Arabs, both Muslims and Christians (but Christians from different churches than the ones we came from) in that area. And we came from enough different countries and churches and cultures as it was. You really had to be or become open-minded or you would not make it in there. It was a pressure cooker of opinions and feelings, of homesickness and a very heavy workload and what have you, not to mention the climate with very hot summers we Europeans were not used to and the special winds during springtime and autumn which are called Khamsin. It was said that after I think five days of this, you would not be held responsible anymore if you committed a murder in the old days.

Our closest neighbor was a kibbutz, Lochame Hagettaot, the Ghetto Fighters. They were the survivors of the ghettos and the concentration camps, who by then had survived some wars and terrorist attacks in Israel as well. You can imagine that they were not all that enthusiastic about us but they gave us the benefit of the doubt. They had built a Museum for the Remembrance of the Holocaust, which we were invited to visit, and organized a grand event each year on the occasion of the Memorial Day of the Holocaust. We were invited to attend each year and allowed to donate six large wreaths of roses for the six million victims of the Holocaust. Still, they did not trust us all that much. It was a matter of wait and see.

And then, in October of 1973, totally unexpected, the Jom Kippur War started. And for over a week the Israeli army was on the losing end, both in the north and in the south. In the south Egyptian forces overran the Israeli troops in the Sinai, and the Syrian forces were coming nearer and nearer to us in the north. That was a very determining period for this project of Nes Ammim. If the inhabitants would evacuate, which was possible – at that moment there was nothing yet that kept us from travelling south to the airport and flying to our home countries – then we might as well stop this initiative once and for all. If we wanted to be solidary with the Jewish people (not against anybody else though) then the time was now. Every person had to decide for himself what to do in the face of what might happen; these Syrian forces that were approaching so rapidly did not have a pretty reputation. I remember for myself that there was only one option, staying, and I just surrendered to whatever might be going to happen, and to God. Somehow it lifted me out of the desperation of the situation and placed me in some sort of bubble in which anything was possible. Nobody left, and of the nine people who were planning to arrive that week nine arrived as planned. That changed everything.

In spite of all probabilities the Israeli forces won after all but the aftermath of this war was terrible. Before the war started, the Israeli’s had considered themselves invincible, even though they had to take heavy losses sometimes, but now they knew they were not. The mood was so down everywhere that in Nes Ammim we decided to make up a program of folk songs and folk dances and things like that to reach out to them and try to cheer them up a bit. We were made very welcome now. They finally believed in us because we had stayed and not run away. I still vividly remember that when we were in Lochame Hagettaot, I met an elderly woman who confided in me that they had been so terrified, that it was all going to happen all over again and that there was no safe place for them anywhere in the world. It broke my heart. But she also said that it had been so important to them that we had stayed, that it had made them feel that they were not all alone. All eyes had been upon us at that time.

And in a weird way I experienced the same all over again many years later in Vietnam, where I visited My Lai, together with my husband and my two younger sons. My Lai was a small village on the outskirts of the city Quang Ngai, where in 1968 more than 500 women, children and elderly people had been brutally murdered by American forces, many of whom must have been Christians. This happened toward the end of these ten formative years of mine and I still vividly remember hearing about it on the news because it reminded me so strongly of what had happened to Jews in the towns and villages of Eastern Europe and I could not believe that it was happening again! I remember both what happened then and what was reported later about the trials that were supposed to bring the responsible people to justice but it all petered out. I also remembered that there had been people who had stood up to their commanding officers and saved people who otherwise would have died. They had to face far harsher trials when they had returned to the USA but are celebrated as heroes in Vietnam. My husband also remembered all of this but the strangest thing is that of all the other people I ever asked about My Lai, both Dutch and American, nobody remembered, except one American woman whom I asked this question only a few weeks ago. Besides her, no one, in spite of all the news coverage at the time.

When we visited My Lai, I also met an elderly woman there, who only had survived the massacre heavily wounded by hiding under the corpses and pretending to be dead. She had visited My Lai – where nobody lives anymore but which has been turned into a memorial site – every day for all those years in order to see if there are still people coming, if her loved ones whom she lost are not forgotten. When she heard that we had known about My Lai all along, that we had never forgotten, and that both our sons, far from killing Vietnamese women, both had married one, then she hugged me and would not let go of me. It was that important to her and made a great impression on me too, as you can imagine.

There were many villages and towns in Eastern Europe, where Jews were massacred just because they were Jews, and there were many more My Lais as well, as I learned just recently. And to the survivors it is so important that the victims are not forgotten.

And then there is the matter of the pesticide Agent Orange as well. During many, many years of the Vietnam War this pesticide was used to defoliate the trees of the jungles and also the rice fields, even though it was known that this was very damaging to the health of the people who were living there. The American planes went on spraying anyway, even though it killed thousands upon thousands of people, including their own! Apart from the many people who died right away many, many more became ill, seriously ill, and died of these illnesses decades later. It was also passed on to future generations so again thousands upon thousands of people were born severely handicapped, both mentally and physically, even to the degree that children were no longer recognizable as human beings. This goes on until today and again we, or in this case my husband, met these children and their parents. We are trying to help them as well as we can – my husband is raising funds for that in Holland –  but we can help only relatively few when you take into account that there are at least 20.000 of these children today in the district of Quang Ngai alone, the district of My Lai. And as both of our daughters in law grew up in the districts where Agent Orange had been sprayed, and both of them became pregnant last year, it was theoretically possible that even our own grandchildren could be effected. Fortunately for us they were not as far as we can judge at the moment. One was born presumably healthy in September and the other one is due in a few weeks but on scans everything seems to be okay.

And then we heard recently that after all this, Agent Orange is used again to defoliate and remove parts of the jungle in South America today, the land to be cleared intended to be used to grow feed for cattle. You can only imagine what the results will be if this gets into the food chain on this scale! And after all the news coverage and the trials there have been, the concerning firms are still allowed to produce this stuff. Talk about knowledge of history being important here.

As far as the situation in today’s Israel is concerned, that is very complicated indeed. There live two peoples (actually more but the others are not so much part of the conflict) with a very traumatic past, who both claim the sole right to live there. I am no longer for one and against the other, I am only for peace and harmony between them and that is something that only they themselves can accomplish. And at the grassroots there are already many projects that work towards that goal.

For instance, there is this village, called Neve Shalom / Wahat al Salaam, where Jews and Arabs, both Muslims and Christians, live together. Where children are raised in two languages, Arabic and Hebrew, and where they are taught always to look at things from the viewpoint of the other party as well. Whenever something dramatic happens, they feel it too and sometimes it is very difficult to meet each other then, but they do and they have raised a generation of young people who feel at home in both cultures and do tremendous work in order to bring people together, no matter how difficult that is. They also have a school of peace, where they bring together people of opposing factions (not only from Israel) and make them meet each other and teach them to see each other as human beings and not as enemies. I am so proud of these people, who hold on against all odds.

And there are many more projects like that, which you never hear about because the news mostly is interested in more spectacular things. In Nes Ammim, where I used to live and where I raised my family for a while, the focus of the project has now changed. There are not so many foreigners anymore and the relationship between Jews and Christians has normalized somewhat. In the beginning Jews were not allowed to live there (by the government) but that already changed a long time ago. Now houses are being built in a new project, where Israeli Jews and Arabs are going to live together, just like in Neve Shalom. And Nes Ammim now hosts conferences and other events where Jews and Arabs can meet on neutral ground. There is a Guesthouse in the Christian village, with a kosher kitchen so orthodox Jews can come and spend time there. Head of this Guesthouse, kosher kitchen and all, is a Muslim Arab woman, the sister of a man who, many years ago, offered to help our Christian kids with their Jewish Tenach lessons for school. Well, that is the kind of society I like. And somehow we seem to have branched out into Buddhism too, with our two Vietnamese daughters-in-law whom we love very much.

If this project of Jews and Arabs living together is going to grow and succeed, I personally would not mind at all to see us foreign Christians fade away completely, as it was never about us anyway. Then Jews and Arabs would be living together in peace and harmony and Nes Ammim would indeed have become a Banner to the Nations and even a Miracle.

The one thing I want to point out with this article though is how important history, in itself, is. It is for all these people I mentioned, and there is so much more that I did not mention. And of all the people in the world it is us, as Christians or ex-Christians, NOT allowed to say that there is no Jewish history in Israel, no matter what the situation is at the moment, which these peoples can and will resolve for themselves. We are NOT allowed to judge these peoples for their actions at any given time, because we do not have the slightest idea of what and how deep rooted their fears and anxieties are, and the politics of our countries have contributed heavily to the origins of many problems in that area in the past. If we want to help, we should do it by supporting these grass root movements for peace by any means we can.

When we say that there is no Jewish history in Israel and that that is just a fabrication of the Jews, it is the final touch to the Holocaust. Trust me, it is and that is not just my viewpoint this time. I spent eleven years among them and during the later years they completely trusted us, who had lived there that long and confided in us.

What is my viewpoint is that Jews, just like other peoples from other cultures, took their history and created myths around it in order to make it easier for the people to understand the universal truth that all people share. And of course they borrowed symbols from the peoples around them and that went before them. There is nothing wrong with that. The only thing that is wrong is to proclaim that you have the sole and original truth, which is what Christianity has done but others also. That is wrong because nobody has the monopoly to the truth. We are still living in the dream world of the deep sleep after all and none of us is capable of grasping the Absolute Truth yet.

And to make things clear, I did not write this article to judge anyone, put the blame on anyone, neither the churches nor the countries, as in this world of duality all of them have shining examples of unconditional love as well, nor on any individual. The root of all that happened is ignorance and fear. However, we who have inherited these things from the past should take our responsibility for the future and seek for solutions by any loving means possible.

So, as I wrote before, the thing we should do is focus on unconditional love and then, whatever we are doing, we will be heading in the right direction.

Joshua Tilghman January 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Hi Anny,

Thank you for another contribution. I was touched by your history of the Jewish people and what they have been through. I have studied some of their hardships in history, but your post makes it more personal. It was also interesting to learn about some of the hardships that you have been through personally. You seem to have a very big heart, Anny, a rare trait in today’s world.

Many blessings!

anny January 5, 2014 at 11:24 am

Hi Josh,

Thanks for your comment. It made it possible for me to see the article last night, whereas I saw the link only this morning.

Yes, there is nothing better than going through something personally to make you understand what is happening elsewhere in the world. It was not all challenge and problem though, we also had amazing times travelling through the country, meeting its people, and getting to know each other as well. The country is beautiful and its population very lively, to say the least. Until you learn to understand Hebrew you would think they are always quarelling but they are not. They are just loud.

Did you add a picture of the Israeli coast near Rosh ha Nikra on the Lebanese border? If not, it looks very similar.

I am glad that you think I have a big heart, as that seems to be the goal of all this esoteric interpretation of the Bible. It goes with the territory when the Christ awakens in us. As such my past has been a tremendous contribution to that as well as it forced me to take huge steps in that direction, and as such I think this article is just as related to esoteric Bible interpretation as meditation is (of which you also shared information about the eastern types).

Love,

Anny

Joshua January 5, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Anny,

You’re right on with the picture. It’s a beautiful coastline!

anny January 6, 2014 at 7:59 am

Hi Josh,

It is indeed a beautiful coastline and a beautiful country. This picture has been taken only a few meters from the border-post with Lebanon, which is located on top of the mountainrange that separates Israel from Lebanon. When you click on the picture you can still see something of the Galilean hills and you look right over the coastal plain. Above the sea, somewhat to the right, in the distance you see the Carmel Mountains. That is where Haifa lies between the sea and the mountains and where my husband and I got married almost 40 years ago, high up on the slope of the mountain, where the Dutch Consulate was situated at the time.

Nes Ammim must be right there, somewhere in the middle of the picture, as it is only maybe fifteen kilometers from the border. However, you should have to stand in a higher position in order to see it as right now it is hidden behind the trees somewhere.

This does bring back memories, as we used to go up this viewpoint sometimes on a day off! At sealevel there are caves where the sea enters and the waters can be very wild there. It is forbidden to swim there because it would be way too dangerous, but it would probably be forbidden anyway as you are right on the border there, where only army troops, Unifil forces and the like are allowed to cross.

sparks January 4, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Hi Anny,
This has been such a beautiful, yet sad article and as I read your words my heart goes out to you, and all the goodness you have created, everywhere you were, every human being your life touched has been a gift, not only to them but to the world, the loving energy you have and continue to move about with is changing things, invisibly, but surely, believe me it has and continues to.
Thank you for being the loving, beautiful woman you are, your family must be so proud of you!
Like yourself I am well aware of all the atrocities committed and are continuing on, such as the destruction of the eco-systems in South America, they have no idea of the impact this will create upon the entire planet. I know there are several groups fighting this and hope more can make the commitment to save our life giving eco-systems. My meditation and prayer each day includes the Earth and her restoration, and that more humans would become aware of her awesome life-giving force.
She will not tolerate it much longer, or the unnecessary bloodshed and mistreatment of human beings, we are of nature and therefore a tremendous part of her life force.

Lastly, you wrote so lovingly: “The root of all that happened is ignorance and fear. However, we who have inherited these things from the past should take our responsibility for the future and seek for solutions by any loving means possible.
So, as I wrote before, the thing we should do is focus on unconditional love and then, whatever we are doing, we will be heading in the right direction.”

Just 2 sentences, which I believe has come to you directly from the Earth, you have spoken for her and I thank you with all my heart!
ps…I am going to copy these 2 sentences and contemplate on all the depth they hold each day
With Love,
Sparks

anny January 5, 2014 at 11:35 am

Hi Sparks,

Again I thank you for your loving comment and your understanding.

Meditation and prayer are very important indeed these days and have a huge influence. I too include the Earth and even the Universe into them. Everything has a certain degree of consciousness or it would not be. And further I just focus on unconditional love in general, as it becomes too much to focus on everything in particular.

Love,

Anny

Paul Young January 5, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Anny, you have an amazing history. It is our experiences and circumstances that shape our lives, and I have no doubt you are a better person because of your incredible experiences. You’ve obviously learned much, and the spirit of God is all about love, love, love. The world needs more people like you. I certainly hope you are able to realize your dream of bringing unconditional love to the world. I share that dream, as well.

anny January 6, 2014 at 8:15 am

Hi Paul,

Thank you for your comment. Yes, I have indeed learned a lot from all that (and much more) that we experienced and I am so grateful that I recognized that in time. At a certain point you have to make a decision about your perspective on what happens during your life and it makes all the difference. I never would have recognized these patterns in the Bible if it had not been for all the difficult experiences I have had, besides all the good ones of course. I already knew that years ago but just recently I am starting to realize and feel it so much deeper.

And I am so glad that you and many others are sharing my dream to bring unconditional love to the world as well. And that we can communicate about it here on the blog.

Love,

Anny

sparks January 10, 2014 at 4:02 am

Hi Leo, Anny, Josh and all,
Contemplating on all the recent posts lately has brought me back to Anny’s New Years post concerning Unconditional Love. What we all long for in ourselves, families and in the world can and never will be accomplished without one very singular, self explanatory yet intensely heart felt “fruit of the spirit” and that is GRATITUDE.
Without it we cannot unconditionally love ourselves, each other and the world, wars will continue, strife will continue and innocent people will continue to be trespassed on each day, unless we consciously nurture and grow in Gratitude. Unconditional love, no matter how much we long for it cannot be brought to fruition without it.
How many of us here have blamed others or circumstances for any problems and strife in our own lives.
Yes, Anny, true, we must take responsibility, but prior to that we must have a Thankful and Grateful heart & soul. All throughout Scripture is the theme of Gratitude, when peoples nurtured it and were full in Spirit with it, all good things came to be, only for it to be devastated again by maliciousness and greed.
If you were to purchase a brand new coat, and saw a homeless person without one in 10 degree weather, would you give it to them and then go jump in your warm car? I know I would given the opportunity, a local man just died, looking for warm clothing in a Salvation Army bin, he froze to death. Right here in the USA.
Energetically manifest gratitude and unconditional love will follow, it is also unconditional.
None of this is elementary, it must be consciously worked for each moment of our lives.
Love,
Sparks

Paul Young January 10, 2014 at 6:37 am

Wow!!! Veeery powerful, Sparks. Indeed, the concept of the “burnt offering,” in scripture bears this out. It is the scriptures’ very humorous way of simply saying “give thanks even in the midst of your fiery trials. That’s why it is called a “burnt” offering. 🙂 Thanks for this very powerful comment. It is critical information that we need to ingest and digest.

sparks January 11, 2014 at 8:54 am

Hi Paul,
Thank you for your reply!
Your comment is so difficult to actually do wholeheartedly, but is most definitely of utmost importance whilst one is going through a fiery trial/trials and ultimately become a vessel for the continuance of unconditional love.
“We are born to suffer, as the sparks fly upwards”

As we discuss the various meanings and interpretations of Scripture, other areas of tradition and culture come into observation, simply because they are patterns woven into our ancestry or DNA.

Am sure you have delved into the Roman tradition of a “Vestal Virgin”, she was the goddess of the hearth & home, they cultivated the sacred fire and kept it from going out in order continue the security of Rome.
These women had no social obligations and this was in fact their sole purpose to provide a perpetual fire for each and every Roman household to benefit from.
The Vestal was to be in service for 30 years, at that point chastity was not required, she would retire and be free to marry.
She was also an honored or a highly regarded citizen of Rome and was given at the end of her service a comfortable pension.
There were also many sacred rites/religious and other functions which she and the others oversaw, there were also many secret rites, that were not known by many, in fact so much so there is very little documentation.
But, by and by, the main theme was that the fire was not to go out. If it were in danger of going out, they would tear a piece of their clothing to re-ignite it.
This reminded me of a changed form of continuation in future religious ceremony’s, although not Scriptural, there does seem to be some themes of that here, as priest and nuns would carry this theme from BC to AD.

Gratitude for the Vestal Virgin was a certainty in many households, without the keepers of the fire, Roman life of the time, would have been in grave danger of being dismantled.
Which it was eventually…

Thank you for your many amazing contributions here!
Love, Sparks

Paul Young January 20, 2014 at 12:55 am

Thanks for sharing this, Sparks. Actually, I have not studied this Roman tradition. I am generally not much into history, as I don’t view the scriptures as a history book, but a spiritual book. Nevertheless, this story rings so true on a spiritual level for me. Our fires (physical sickness and dis-ease, inharmonious relationships, and other personal trials and tribulations) are gifts to us and represent the cross of Christ that we must carry with joy if we are to overcome. In the natural, gratitude for these “gifts” seems to make no sense, but when we go into the sanctuary, everything becomes crystal clear (Ps. 73:17). We must carry the oil of joy and gladness in our lamps. When we bring the lamp of Christ to our fires, he is able to extinguish them. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalms 34:19)

You are amazing, Sparks. Blessings.

anny January 12, 2014 at 4:39 am

Hello Sparks,

You write about the importance of gratitude and I totally agree with you. I think I already mentioned gratitude in one of my comments. I do not remember the context exactly.

I would like to add one other element: appreciation. I believe that unconditional love, appreciation and gratitude are like a trinity as well. They continue to build on and feed each other. When you appreciate you become grateful and feel more love, but when you love you start to appreciate more, and when you appreciate more you start to be even more grateful, or rather thankful and so on. It is like spiralling upwards in vibration!

As far as the word grateful is concerned, some time ago there was a whole discussion about it on another blog. The word itself had got a bad flavour as it were as in the old days you were always supposed to be grateful for some handout or other. It was something that was demanded. So it was not what you mean by the word at all and that is why I personally prefer the word thankful although I use grateful too.

Some people have gratitude journal in which they write every day what they are grateful for that day and it seems to be a great help in order to become more aware. Personally I do not write it down but I do take some time every day to think of all the things to be grateful for and that is a lot.

Love,

Anny

Robert January 11, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Anny,

This article is remarkable. I am intensely interested in these joint Arab/Jew programs. This is a dream I want more than anything else in the world to help make come true. What can I do.?

anny January 12, 2014 at 4:21 am

Hi Leo,

Thanks for your comment again.

I agree that initiatives like Nes Ammim and Neve Shalom / Wahat al Salaam are examples of manifestions of divine love; fortunately there are many more but most of them have become less wellknown abroad. Do not put them up for sainthood though; they all had and have their pitfalls as well, we are only human after all and we certainly were no saints in Nes Ammim when I still lived there. I do not suppose the ones that are there now are either.

You write that you hope that Christians will continue to live in Israel and I am sure they will. Part of the Arab population is Christian and there are many others as well who settled there, quite independently from initiatives like Nes Ammim.

I do not know if you were referring to my remark about the project of Nes Ammim because I only meant them. There the Christians came especially for that project and it would be great if the need for their presence in that capacity would be no longer there. But even if that comes to pass, it does not necessarily mean that the Christians who live there at the moment would leave the country. Many of the inhabitants of the past fifty years and who left the village are still living in Israel, either as Christians, or as Jews because in fact conversions did take place but the other way around, sometimes because someone married an Israeli but also a few families converted to Judaism.

One of the Jewish friends of Nes Ammim, who worked for similar peace project himself said about Jerusalem the she is the Mother of all the peoples in the country. A mother you share with your brothers and sister, you do not divide her! And I totally agree with him.

Anny

anny January 12, 2014 at 5:07 am

Hello Robert,

Thank you for your interest and willingness to help.

I could not find any interenational information about Nes Ammim and I do not think there are any support organisations in English speaking countries at the moment.

You can get into contact with Neve Shalom/ Wahat al Salaam through:

Israel : wasns.org
USA: oasisofpeace.org
GBr: oasisofpeaceuk.org

Love,

Anny

Robert January 12, 2014 at 8:31 am

Thanks Anny. I googled them and found http://www.nesammim.org/. This might be of interest to you.

anny January 12, 2014 at 8:55 am

Hi Robert,

Thanks. I do not really need the international link as I do have access to the Dutch one, but thanks anyway.

I would advise you however to try Neve Shalom first as they have experience in this field rom the early seventies and Nes Ammim had other priorities in the beginning. However, there is no harm in finding out for yourself first what both have to offer right now.

It would be great if you could be of help to either of them, or maybe even both.

Blessings,

Anny

Robert January 12, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Anny,

Thanks for the heads up. I did not like what I discovered so far about Nev Shalom. It was certainly a bold effort to throw cultural opposites together and try to have them work out their conflicts, but I believe they so far have proven your assumption wrong that it would be better for foreign Christians to withdraw and let the Jews and Arabs work it out. There has been a lot of tension there. It started from a secular foundation using secular methods and principles that are not enough to overcome cultural biases. There isn’t much anyone can do to help them; they recruit a handful of young volunteers to do routine labor in what seems to me to be exploitive. Their website is not visitor friendly. I am guessing they have too many internal conflicts to be attractive to the world beyond. On the other hand, they are over 100+ strong with a waiting list of 300 families to join and are planning a major expansion to accommodate 92 more families. I lived on a secular intentional community in the US for a year and found it to be very disappointing. “Egalitarianism” sounds like a lofty ideal to build a community around, but I’ve never seen it work well, yet. Nes Ammin was more attractive to me. They accept older volunteers and a larger number. From the photos it looks like a warmer human environment. I don’t think they have too many Jews and Arabs living together there anymore, which may be why they do not have lots of conflicts. Its kind of touristy and more international. My conclusion is that not much progress can be made in joining the Arab and the Jew until we both let go of who we are in the ego realm with all its tugging and pulling. Good intentions and community design are not enough. But I hope they keep trying. Its the best practical experiment so far.

Robert January 12, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Anny,

I should have explained that I have just had a week of post-traumatic shock, 45 years delayed, from my experience as a college age student at Twin Oaks intentional community in Louisa, Virgina. Something triggered a memory and then an avalanche of shock and anger. It took me by surprise like walking into quicksand. I tried all my tricks but it pulled me in until yesterday when I was advising a friend on a blog to let go of the past, and then a sense of peace came over me, as if I had been on fire and just got a dose from a fire extinguisher. I’m still a little shaken, but out of the quicksand. I have to give credit. After managing to suspend myself through guided meditation, I was calm enough to email the community and open up a dialogue with existing members their, which has helped. But the real healing when I got on the blog did not occur until after I got desperate and used an old, old trick of visualizing Jesus on the cross. Also it opened me up to understanding my wife’s post-traumatic stress from her first husband leaving her after giving birth to their third child, and being able to get her to talk about it and view it in perspective. So I’m sure some of my stuff spilled over into my evaluation of Nev Shalom. You have led an incredible life of meaning in missions to the Israeli problem and now others. May we find peace for ourselves and others in the silence and in the lamb.

anny January 13, 2014 at 11:06 am

Hello Robert,

Thanks for your mails. I understand where you are coming from. Writing this article opened a can of worms for me also. There are traumatic experiences that I am not going to share here on the blog, but which still heavily influence my health (or lack thereof). Somehow I have come to terms with the concerning people in my heart long ago (and of course I had my fair share in the problems) but the pain they caused I pushed away and I thought it was gone but of course it was not as I discovered years later.

You write that you were disappointed in Neve Shalom and that Nes Ammim looked better to you. However, what you wrote about Neve Shalom I could also have written about Nes Amimm. I think it is a process that goes with the territory so to speak. Somehow people expect to find a bunch of saints when they hear about a project like that but we definitely were not. I do not think it was much different in the kibbutzim either in the beginning.

You are faced with so much hardship and practical and emotional problems in a village like that. Life in such a closeknit, isolated (literally) community makes you face yourself first if you understand what I mean. If you think you can run away from problems at home by doing something noble elsewhere, forget it, you take yourself with you. Besides there are a lot of challenges and people have different ideas about meeting them. Facing a lot of responsibilities also makes egos inflate and clash. And clash they did, in Nes Ammim just as much as in Neve Shalom or any other project for that matter. The challenge then is not to give up because things did not go as you had expected but to keep trying again and again and to overcome the problems. You have to learn from your mistakes and most of all not to become bitter. When you manage to do all that, it is a tremendous experience and a chance for spiritual growth as well. I do not regret my stay in Nes Ammim for a minute.

Contrary to Nes Ammim however, where people are coming for a limited time, even if that was a longer period in the past than today, in Neve Shalom they have kept going now for over forty years, the ones who were there from the beginning. And contrary to other settlements they met with plenty of difficulties from outside the village as well, as the people in the surroundings do not all agree to this project and the authorities are also not always cooperating. Still they have remained true to their ideals, no matter how hard that must have been sometimes. That is why I admire them enormously.

The fact that you already know about these problems by visiting their websites, and I also read about them in a quarterly report we receive here in Holland, means that they are totally open about everything and show that they hold out, no matter what.

If anyone wants to contribute to one of these projects from abroad, I think the best way is by financial contributions and prayer.

I hope you are doing better now and wish you all the best for the future.

Love,

Anny

Robert January 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Anny,

Thank you for the encouragement and candidness in sharing what you were able to about your life experiences. It absolutely helped me to understand that my crisis was not so uncommon. It reminds me of the 1970’s hit song “Everybody Plays the Fool”. You can hear it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNQ0GkGN3yM. I’m still not completely over this, but I am finding that I now have more interest in listening to other people who struggle with past trauma. We know how to reach out to people in distress when we have walked in their shoes. It is still a wonderful mystery to me how my path of transcendence and traditional religion interplay, which is why websites like this are so helpful. In some disciplines of transcendent spirituality an initiate is guided carefully by a mentor to help them over the rough spots. We have each other to fill that role. Its good to have a new friend in the cloud. This may seem kind of schmaltzy but I thought you might enjoy this recording By James Taylor and Carole King. I searched all over the net today to try to find a youtube where they sing “You’ve Got A Friend” in a duet”. It’s one of the last songs in the set: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IMntLIgIq8

Shalom,
Robert

Sincerely,
Robert

anny January 14, 2014 at 4:36 am

Hi Robert,

You’re welcome.

I enjoy it too finding friends in other parts of the world with whom you can share things, that sometimes you cannot talk about with many people in your own surroundings. I do not know if they are simply not there or if maybe the distance makes it easier too.

Shalom!

Anny

anny January 14, 2014 at 7:30 am

Hi Robert,

I just listened to the links you sent. Thanks!!

Anny

Robert January 20, 2014 at 9:45 am

Sparks and Paul

This was very interesting about the vestal virgin and its continuation as Roman Catholic celibate nuns and priests. On the other side of that were pagan temple prostitutes, but I’m not sure which area and time they existed relative to the Roman empire. What really struck me this morning was the focus on this blog on maintaining an attitude of gratitude, and also counting suffering as joy. I woke up grouchy and realized I was slightly depressed. So when I checked the new blog entrees, the gratitude and joy concept seemed like a good direction to go. Being a natural skeptic, I also have a problem with this concept, which I sometimes refer to as the platitude of gratitude. I do this because being grateful is the last thing the natural mind wants to do when it is depressed, and a little sarcasm brings an ounce of relief. To get the pound of relief from faking joy and gratitude is very, very hard work with little immediate gratification, especially if you are not used to it and do not have a system of doing it that works for you. It might also ignore dealing with the root problems that cause depression. I get the idea that if you engage in spiritual activities it is supposed to mystically bring gratitude and joy. This is the symbolic meaning of the disciples singing and praising God in prison. I personally never found the value of that very long lasting. it is more emotional than spiritual. Then, there is the danger that if you are depressed because you feel you have failed, that if you then fail to achieve any lasting relief from trying to live up to platitudinous expectations, it will only add to a further sense of failure and despair. So there has to be a better way.

Paul January 20, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Robert, this is a great post, and you bring up some sterling points. (I’m hoping this response to your comment doesn’t become tantamount to writing a new blog post.) 🙂

The scriptures actually counsel AGAINST faking joy (or faking anything, for that matter). Sincerity and truth are generally the order of the day. I also can appreciate your comment regarding true spirituality versus emotionalism.

Here’s where faith in “Christ” is a critical aspect of our spirituality. Christ represents the power and the wisdom of God that is within each one of us. To “believe” in this Christ (I am writing an article on this subject which I hope to have completed by the weekend) is to believe that “all things are possible.” The “all things” include your greatest adversities, whatever form they may take.

The waters bring forth the dragon (Gen. 1:21 – dragon/serpent is the correct translation of what the KJV calls “whales”). In other words, it is your adversities that give birth to the Satanic idea that something is wrong. But there is nothing wrong. It is only an appearance. None of your adversities have come upon you to harm you in any way. Jeremiah 29:11 makes this abundantly clear (I like the NIV translation of this verse). Adversities are your greatest allies, and the reason for that is because they represent your greatest opportunities to wake up the power within you that the scriptures call “Christ.” This is why, as Napoleon Hill so eloquently states, “[e]very adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.”

But in the natural state, we cannot see this. When something lo0ks wrong, we generally feel that it is. Here is where “walking by faith, and not by sight,” becomes critical. When we see adversity, the power and wisdom of God within is gives us the ability to look beyond the adversity to the Christ that is “able” to still all storms, and to do for you “exceeding abundantly above ALL that you can ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).

Joshua and Caleb were able to enter the promised land because they believed they could. the other Israelites couldn’t enter in because they didn’t believe. The “giants” in the land are representative of your adversities, fears, etc.. You have the power within you to overcome all of them. It is this power that makes you a “god.” “I can do all things through Christ that strengths me” (Phil. 4:13). “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Trust me when I tell you, this has been a hard lesson for me, but is an integral part of the “transformation” process. This is where the true “belief” rubber meets the road. I have learned to be thankful for every adversity that comes to me. What I have found is that adversity loses its power when I don’t give it any. On the contrary, use it to cry out to the Christ within, for that is the purpose for it. “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” This is the job of the “Comforter,” the spirit within, the Christ (2 Cor. 3:17). And so our joy and gratitude is a reflection of our “belief” in the power within that is able to still the storms of adversity. This is one of the greatest meanings of Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego and the burning fiery furnace. Because their trust was not in the king, but in “God,” they endured the adversity and came out of it with elevated consciousness. In fact, the “burnt offering” is the scriptures’ humorous way of saying “give thanks in the midst of your fiery trials.”

This is my take. Thanks so much for your comment.

Robert January 21, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Paul

I can’t thank you enough for your encouragement. You have a deeper insight into scripture than most people in churches I’ve been in, I think because you truly understand the Christ within After reading your post I imagined myself as doubting Thomas putting his hand deep inside the wound of Christ in order to validate that Christ survived the cross and came out with more power and energy than before the cross. But when I reached deep inside the wound, I became aware that it was my wound, the wound to the Christ within. and that the Thomas passage has a hidden and graphical message about empowerment of the individual over suffering, not just about the glory of the resurrected Jesus. And your additional comments helped me realize that our individual crises are truly doorways to higher consciousness. This is also what Anny has been writing about, descending (masculine journey toward the material world) and then ascending (feminine response giving birth to our messianic nature that ascends to the spiritual) in cycles, each cycle increasing spiritual awareness. Thank youagain, Paul.

Paul January 23, 2014 at 10:38 am

Robert:

Your comments are pretty deep, especially the one about Thomas passage. The interesting thing about “doubting Thomas” (I’ve never seen that term in scripture) is that Jesus DOES reveal himself as Thomas requests. Thomas, a “disciple,” needs to the nail prints in Jesus’ hands and feet, and Jesus shows them to him.

“Ask and it shall be given.”

I truly appreciate your comments, and I very thankful for all that has been revealed to me. As I have posted on another comment somewhere on this blog, our adversities are our greatest teachers. I have learned that I truly can trust the Christ within, no matter what I am going through. It is beginning to work in some pretty marvelous ways for me.

Thanks again.

anny January 21, 2014 at 6:39 am

Hello Robert,

I am sorry to read that you have been feeling so down. I know what it feels like as I have a history of burn-out and depression of over thirty years.

However, over time I have come to realize that what Paul writes above is completely true.

And trust me, there is no failure. There is just falling down and standing up again, but no judgment. It is all part of life. No one says it is easy, I least of all, but it is worth it. I must say that the insights I have received in this process have been a tremendous help in this.

Love,

Anny

Robert January 21, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Anny,

Thanks for the consolation. Your comment “There is just falling down and standing up again, but no judgment” reinforces a new concept that has been trickling down into my awareness from various sources, which my natural mind resists accepting because I am conditioned to think (in my frontal lobes) that this is too good to be true. Yet there is something that keeps breaking out of my intuition, whispering the same truth you expressed.

sparks January 21, 2014 at 11:43 am

Hi Robert,
I too was sorry to hear you are feeling down, and I can certainly tell you without a doubt you are not alone…if that is any consolation for you.

Paul has written it all so perfectly, the Scripture’s he chose are of truth and also re-assurance, that “this too shall pass”. I myself have received many uplifting moments reading Psalms during burn out, depression and anxiety, which can come on at any time in our lives, struggling through these times does in fact make us stronger, as Anny has also stated.
Continue seeking what is authentic and true for you, everyone, I believe has a different way of helping their selves and you will indeed find what works for you.

There is one quote that came to mind which I wanted to share with you from Mother Theresa:
“I have found the paradox, that if I Love until it hurts, there is no hurt, only more Love”
If you were to replace the Love in this quote with”feeling Gratitude and Joy”, then the same applies!

We are amidst many challenges in our world right now, and as spiritual beings we simply cannot help but be affected by it all, in some way. If you have your health be glad for that!

As far as my comments on the vestal virgin, that actually would have worked better in the article of Josh’s on the Sacraments & Chakras, as we were discussing the Sacrament of Ordination and the reason why it was and still is only reserved to priest’s in the Roman Catholic religion, there I think it would of made better sense as to what went on prior to it being what it is today.
The holding of the flame is actually why it came to mind while responding to Paul’s post, as being symbolic of life, warmth and light, even during our darkest moments.

Hold the Light Robert!
Love, Sparks

sparks January 23, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Hi All!
Wanted to share this, just saw it and thought you all would appreciate the beauty~

http://news.yahoo.com/ancient-church-mosaic-symbol-jesus-uncovered-israel-160232405.html

anny January 24, 2014 at 10:48 am

Hi Sparks,

Thanks for sharing this link with us. I checked it out and it is beautiful.

sparks January 24, 2014 at 11:41 am

Oh good Anny, am so glad you went there as I definitely knew you would love it!!

Isn’t it wonderful, all these new archeological sites that have been discovered in the Holy Land !! and lucky you to have been there and walked the lands.
I would love to put that on my bucket list, but tensions are running so high, it may not be a good time to go.

I am bit of an archeological buff, and love to read and watch some of the shows on the History Channel, but this particular one came up in my face, right after Paul’s last article here “Who and What is God and Christ”, so very curiously coincidental?
It was if the universe was saying “OK, good job, you guys, now that you’ve uncovered those truths, take a look at this!!”

It truly is remarkable…I love when these things occur in our lives and just at the right time, it all seems very magical.
Well, maybe one day I will get to the Holy Land and do something good while visiting.
It would be fantastic if this group here could all travel there together, Imagine…
Love, Sparks

anny January 25, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Hi Sparks,

Thanks for your comment. I love it. It really is remarkably how all these things come together. I would love to visit Israel once again, although I am also a little bit afraid of what I am going to find there after almost twenty years – I’d hate to see that ugly wall that has been put up since we were there for the last time and all these new settlements – but it would indeed be fantastic if this group could all go together. Well, imagine we can and who knows, miracles have been known to happen! May first of all John Lennon’s Imagine .. come through though!

Love,

Anny

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