I’m a bit behind but I did want to remind you all with the dreidel title that there are officially less than four months until Christmas. The countdown begins…
So off we went to Jerusalem for 3 days and 2 nights. We’ve travelled to Israel twice before. The first time maybe 6 years ago we flew into Tel Aviv and rented a car and drove all over—which doesn’t say there was much mileage accrued since it’s a small country. We’ve been to Galilee, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Masada, Accra and the Dead Sea. Israel confuses me. I see such wide-open space between cities. Like driving thru Wyoming wide open spaces. So I get confused/disturbed because these wide-open spaces tell me there’s lots of room in Israel so why are the Israelis and the Palestinians always fighting? I think it’s a Mind the Gap situation. Why can’t they give each other a gap? I was reading the other day an author who talks about the politics of resentment and the politics of reconciliation. If one follows a policy of resentment conflict will continue forever. If one follows the policy of reconciliation conflict could end and repair could begin. What I took away from the history of Jerusalem from the Tower of David Museum was that Jerusalem has been handed over many times from the dawn of time. The abbreviated list of rulers/history includes Canaanites, Israelites, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Israelite Bar-kochba revolt, Byzantian (Constantine)rule, Egyptian rule, conquered by the Crusaders who turned the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque into Christian churches, recaptured by the Muslims, then the Ottoman Turks who permitted the practice of both Judaism and Islam, Brits took it in WW1 and Israel was established as an independent state in 1948.
There is reason from both sides for resentment. The Jewish people have had to cling to survival and with that comes anger, grief, confusion and shame. The Palestinians have been forcibly displaced, their memories of home ripped from them and because of that, they cling to what was and embellish the “sweetness” of their past. So sad from both factions and the rest of the world lies in the middle trying to figure out what is “fair.”
One of the links at the bottom of this post will be video I took on the road from Jerusalem to the Allenby Bridge which is the passage from Jordan to Israel.
We took a cab from Amman to the Jordanian departure point. It took about an hour. Then we exited the cab to enter a building that housed the Jordanian passport control. From there we took a bus thru at least one checkpoint where the officials check the undercarriage of the bus with mirrors. From there, we rode to the Israeli passport control. There, one is NOT supposed to get an Israeli stamp in our passport because other Middle East countries like Syria and Iran would forbid entry into their countries (that is not our plan!). Everybody knows this so we get a paper stamped but not affixed to our passports which serves as an Israeli Visa. From there, we took a bus into Jerusalem. So complicated! The bus then took about 30 minutes and there we were in the heart of the city with three perceptions of the ALMIGHTY.
We stayed near the Damascus Gate and our intent was just to stay in Jerusalem and immerse ourselves in the Old City. It was wonderful. We stayed at a retired convent—they had a chapel (now inactive), gave us breakfast, and were within walking distance of our goal. Near the Damascus Gate is really the Arab side of the Old City. It felt like we were back in Amman’s marketplace. The signage was in Arabic and English and there was the same hustle and bustle of any market place. Fewer women draped in black but there were some. From there we walked thru to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the main Christian Church managed by the Orthodox, Coptic and Roman Churches. Here’s an interesting tidbit: the three Catholic rites couldn’t get along to manage the opening and closing ritual of the church so a Muslim family has held the keys to the church for 100+ years. If one visits the church between 5 and 5:30 AM you can witness the unlocking procedure. Another lesson in the need to “mind the gap.
We’ve walked and walked those 3 days—from one side of the Old City to the other and back again. We would leave at 9 AM and return at 9 PM. And it was fabulous. We had the time to spend where and when we wanted. One of the afternoons we were able to revisit an artist friend in the Artist Colony across from Jaffa gate. We walked the length of Via Dolorosa. You’ll notice from the pictures that there is no sense of sacredness along the Via Dolorosa; there are at least 4 layers of antiquity between the walkway of today and the lane during Jesus’ time. We did every tour available: the Western Wall Underground tour, the Tower of David Museum are both not to be missed and we fought in St Etienne’s Church. Yep, in the middle of this beautiful Baroque cathedral John and I verbally duked it out. We’re spending a lot of time together and one of us was being annoying. I have a friend who tells me that fighting is an act of intimacy. Yep, I showed John my worst side and he showed me his—that’s intimacy. Grace is sometimes messy. And life on the road faces normal stuff. Healing and repair is possible even in Jerusalem. Luckily, the church was empty—I hate whispering during a spat.
So we’re back home in Amman safe and sound. We’re into our final week and then fly away on the 10th of Sept to Istanbul, Turkey where 3 couples are joining us. We welcome visitors. Hope all of you are staying well. I know you are staying busy—there are 2 weddings that I know of and countless birthdays, anniversaries and TREATMENTS that are passing us. We think of you often and fondly and wish the best-est for your day. Enjoy! It’s a gift.
Remember less than 4 months until Christmas…