On February 15 – a day after Valentine’s Day – 30 travelers will embark on our next Tree of Life Journey to Palestine/Israel with many traveling on for an extension in Saudi Arabia. I’m very pleased and grateful that our Senior Associate Minister, Laura Fitzpatrick Nager together with Ghoufran Allababidi (President of Tree of Life Edu. Fund) and The Rev. Susan Switzer Colihan will shepherd this group of “Valentines”. The oldest of our travelers is 90 years of age and the youngest is 7. In addition to members and friends of our Old Lyme Church, we’ll also have a wonderful group of young Muslim high school and college students on the journey.

Up against the enormous military power of Israel’s illegal occupation supported and funded by $8 to 10 million per day from our US Taxes, most of which is used to leverage military contracts, some might say with a measure of cynicism, what good can be done by a group of “Valentines?” And yet, the bible and our Christian tradition is all about the power of the powerless, the power of one, the persuasion of even a single voice of conscience. Our 30 Valentines will provide an infusion of love and hope in a place sorely in need of the blessed knowledge that someone cares and someone listens. In addition to themselves, our 30 travelers will also be ambassadors of this congregation’s Love. In nearly 20 years, with our annual journeys, well over 500 have taken part in our Tree of Life journeys. Many more have bought olive oil and made contributions to our Tree of Life scholarships in Gaza and the West Bank. In a world addicted to military power, we should never underestimate the power of Love. Our travelers will bring that love to Palestinian and Israeli organizations, courageous organizations in which Jews, Muslims and Christians work together to champion human rights. They’ll bring that Love to schools and universities, refugee camps, and organizations that support Bedouin women. They’ll extend that Love to young Israelis who have refused to serve in the Israeli military. They’ll bring that love to musicians who know how powerful the powerless can be in singing the songs of freedom and liberation – “Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome some day.”

Please remember our travelers in your prayers, and please thank them for being Valentines, emissaries of our Love throughout their travels.

The Rev. David W. Good
Minister Emeritus and Founder of Tree of Life Education Fund.