Oh for the wings of a dove


by Mrs Rhys-John

It is the night that Christians call Christmas Eve. I am sitting on an outcrop of rock, huddled against the cold and looking to the future, for to look back into the past merely brings back a nightmare.

The sun has set and for a few brief moments bathes everything and everyone in its daily dying glory. But now the night air is getting colder and colder and the old bones cry out for warmth and comfort.

This is almost the end of the twentieth century and history will record two world wars and innumerable local wars, some of which can threaten the existence of every soul on this planet called Earth.

I am one of the people who have been uprooted by such a conflict and when one looks closely at the cause or comprehend the effect, faith, religion or a lack of both is the root cause.

Not one of the continents has been without conflict, be they areas called the Third World or parts of the world priding themselves on democracy.


The sub-continent of India shows all the signs of upheaval between Sikh, Muslim and Hindu. The islands of the Far East teeter on the brink of social unrest. South America suffers not only ethnic problems but a vast chasm of difference between rich and poor. North America is a breeding ground of dissatisfaction betrween black, white and Hispanic. Australia is vast but can support so few and as the number of the few increases it becomes everyone’s problem. And Europe, dear old reliable Europe, has smouldered for some decades and is about to explode as national identity comes to the fore.

And of me and my problem? Well, I am from the storm centre of the world. I come from the Middle East. I am a Muslim from the Gaza Strip, deported by the Jews and unacceptable to all.

Not that I want to be accepted. I just want to go home, back to my family and to my citrus grove where, at this time of year, the fruit from last season is ripening and this year’s blossom is filling the air with overpowering perfume. I can almost smell it now.

Instead I am here on a hillside between Lebanon and Palestine trying to cope at a time of life when I should be taking things easy and letting others cope.

The so-called camp is unbelievably awful, the food is barely adequate to keep us alive. But the one positive thing is that our spirit is unquenchable. Many years ago, I met a Welshman who came to work in my country; he called it “hwyl”.

This small and somewhat insignificant stretch of land brings together three faith of the world: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This land was part of the ancient world and, while able to sustain growth, where there are rivers to use for irrigation, it is not known for heavy rainfall and yet there are accounts in ancient times of a great flood!

Looking around me now it is hard to believe that mankind was saved by one small highly insignificant bird – a dove. The dove gave hope that dry land could be found and life on earth would start again. From something so small, so much was released. The future became reality.

For me and my future, I sit here shivering with cold and with anticipation that something somewhere will allow this horror to be resolved and I shall be able to return to my homeland.

Meanwhile, I must dream and, in my dream, I become a dove – a free spirit soaring high above the troubles and the conflicts – a sign of peace.

Oh for the wings of a dove!