The River Pushing the River: Peace to me is water. If a place has no access to water, nobody would settle down there, or build a home, or plant a crop, or have children. The people of the Middle East are geniuses at creating lives with minimal water and minimal peace resources.

I chose yellow for my block because I wanted a hot dry colour for the Middle East. And sitting in the company of women on a rainy Saturday in Vancouver at the quilting bee itself, the idea of community coalesced my idea of "water" into the image of a "river". A river where two equal streams of water merge into one.

At the workshop, as I sat there watching the videos, I toyed with the thought that maybe I could do more than just make a quilt block. I visualized myself bringing up the whole subject of "Peace in the Middle East" at the lunch table at work, instead of just sitting there eating my sandwich and reading the newspaper. Immediately I dumped the idea of doing more. I didn't want to risk bugging people. I didn't want to be "pushy".

I didn't want to "push the river".

The quilt workshop was a place where the river was running. It had been the RIVER "pushing the river". I have never personally known war. But here is a primal part of me that understands that Peace can't be taken for granted. When I saw the video showing Israeli teenagers wearing uniforms, I found tears streaming down my face. I have a sixteen year old son.

The movement of water is a natural force surpassing that of any human efforts to control it. Water creates its own channel, carries its own weight forward. I think it is the same thing with co-existence and community. Human beings have never quite given up trying to live together in a positive way--so they can concentrate on building homes, planting crops and having babies. And hugging their teenagers.

We try to redirect where water runs by cutting channels. We can make water flow towards our homes, crops and babies by digging ditches. The river is the sum of all the individual raindrops that have gathered together with other raindrops. The river is not the channel through which it is flowing, it is WATER pushing itself through the ditch.

I don't have to be the RIver. I don't have to push the river. My job is to help dig the ditch.

Elizabeth Strider, Vancouver British Columbia Canada