When a surprise - like a small fragile flower pushing itself through a cement block - meets the eye, I experience a certain sure bliss, an "instant vacation." For a moment, all is well; my breath stops. I experience a moment of awe, and at times bittersweet feelings.
The following moments speak of such vacations from the occupation.
1. A Palestinian hearing the call to prayer, unfolding his prayer rug on the street, kneeling to pray.
2. An Israeli soldier offering coffee to the Palestinian street cleaner.
3. A fully grown sheep managing to go successfully through the checkpoint turnstile.
4. An Israeli soldier requesting a Palestinian man to be kind and purchase bread for his need.
5. A "flotilla" of kites flying overhead, one of them "dressed" in a Palestinian flag.
6. A sick camel coming into my neighborhood to receive medicine.
7. A day at the checkpoints with no ID checks.
8. A shopkeeper leaving his shop unattended to take me to another shop to find what I need.
9. A small child kissing my hand, then raising my hand to his/her forehead as a sign of honor.
10. Two young men after an hour of detainment coming back to thank us for our presence at the checkpoint.
11. A shepherd offering hospitality after settlers stole his donkey.
12. The Palestinian woman pouring perfume on my face when I am choking and crying from tear gas.
13. Small, visiting Jewish children attentively watching the Palestinian potters as they paint their wares.
14. A Jewish shopkeeper crossing the street to have coffee with his Palestinian neighbor.
15. Children skipping up and down the stairs that lead onto a violent street.
16. A Palestinian mother refusing to allow her son, who has just been beaten, to be dragged behind a military gate.
17. Large groups of internationals coming to see for themselves whether all this occupation "stuff" is true.
18. Israeli, Palestinian and international folks working together for peace in this land.
19. Rain falling in May. How happy the farmers must be to have rain because their crops must now survive without irrigation pipes that have been cut by the military.
20. Four teenage Palestinian youth smiling every morning at me as they have just been stopped once again for an ID check.
People's lives must go on even though this part of the world is a war zone. I've learned that beauty and enjoyment of simple things are not taken for granted so easily when checkpoints, humiliations and restrictions meet the person at regular turns of the day.
I learn daily of the beauty around me here in Hebron.