Earlier this month I was part of an extraordinary international delegation of spiritual leaders, musicians, diplomats, and environmental and peace activists traveling through Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. The trip was organized by Unity Earth, EcoPeace Middle East, and United Religions Initiative. Our mission was to meet with people in the region who are working to bring struggling, often bitter communities together and to learn about peace-building efforts centered on the Jordan River and the waters it flows from and empties into. Along the way another subtler mission evolved: we discovered that we could infuse into each encounter with people and place the lively, harmonious spirit of music, ceremony, fascination, and diversity that we ourselves exemplified as individuals and as a group.
As day settled into evening on Monday, February 3, we pulled into the border station to leave Jordan, cross the Jordan River, and enter the ancient city of Jericho. Just about any border crossing confronts visitors with an air of suspicion, and that is especially true at this link between areas that have known so much conflict over so many decades. This is a place that has been through a lot of violence, frustration, and despair. You have to wait a long time for your passports to be checked and cleared. There have been stabbings here. People have been detained and arrested. The ground is littered with trash, and high fences keep you in your place.
Despite the wounds that are so perceptible here, the border crossing itself is part of that Holy Land that bears a long and complex history and has such deep spiritual meaning for people of many faiths. It seemed like the perfect place to make a small, simple gift of beauty in the form of a RadJoy Bird.
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—Trebbe Johnson

Trebbe Johnson
Trebbe JohnsonFounder
Trebbe is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty. Her new book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty, will be published in Fall 2018 by North Atlantic Books. Her articles about people’s emotional and spiritual relationship with nature have appeared in Orion, Sierra, Ecopsychology, The Ecologist, The Nation, Harper’s and other magazines. She lives with her husband, Andrew Gardner, in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region currently under exploitation by natural gas companies.


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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.