Monday, January 18, 2010

Pray For The Peace Of Jerusalem

Pictures! I hope everyone enjoys this visual stimulus brought to you by the wireless at Hebrew University (the internet at our center is a little too junior to be able to withstand pictures being uploaded).This is the view from the center on our first free day. As you can see, I was pretty excited to have been out on the town.

This is me showing the Dome of the Rock like it's something you can win on Price Is Right.

At the Ethiopian Church where a man of the cloth came up to me, kissed both of my cheeks, hugged me, and then proceeds to spray my entire body (including both of the cameras in my hands) with this Oriental perfume.

This last week we were able to go to the Western Wall for the ushering in of Shabbat (after sundown, which is strictly contraband under regular circumstances) and it was tov to the max! The whole place was packed with old Jewish women who looked like they stepped out of a European cafe in the 50's, even older men who covered their bald spots with kippas, packs of Hebrew school students with scriptures that opened the wrong way, and (my personal favorite) hordes of Israeli soldiers much too beautiful to be enlisted.

From the Ultra-Orthodox Jews down to the observant gentiles, we all had our own way of communicating with God. After standing in front of the wall and just absorbing all the reverence from the wide spectrum of worship, I finally wrote down my prayer and as I pressed it between the prayers of hundreds of others from all over the world I felt so spiritually connected with this little world full of people looking for something to make them happy. Awesome.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Holy Moly, Holy Land!

Forgive me Blogger for I have sinned. It has been four months since my last post and I come to you with a spirit of contrition, ready to repent. Because now, more than ever, I have something to blog about.
Why haven't we met before? For me and Jerusalem, it was love at first sight. Like Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Bread and Cheese--we were meant to be together! As I stepped off the plane in Tel Aviv, I felt something special about this place. Then when I watched all the old Jewish men in the arrivals gate tenderly embrace and kiss eachother's cheek with their earlocks bobbing around, I knew it was true.
I know that the religious significance of this place has caused thousands of years of war and countless lives shed, but how many people in this world are willing to die for their religion? Most people in our world go to church because it's something to do on an Easter Sunday, or because their parents did it, but they don't feel strongly enough about their convictions they'd lay their mortal lives on the line to protect it.
I'm not trying to endorse self-inflicted martyrdom, but there's something about the devotion of the people here that is so thick you can almost breathe their piety. It's like the severe reverence of the city makes it even more animated. Just walking outside I can tell my body loves this city. Whether it's smelling so deeply the incense-spice-hookah-tea filled air until you feel like you're actually using your skin to absorb the scents through osmosis, or letting the beautiful Arabic call to prayer song echo deep in your soul as it radiates throughout the city.
My spirit loves this city. I have never felt more at one with the Lord as well as the world than when I was kneeling to kiss the monument of His tomb with a creaky and old Greek Orthodox woman one on side of me, and a large and powerful Nigerian man on the other side of me. All brought together by the love of our Savior.
My only hope is that I can remember forever that what happened here changed the world, and I know it has the power to change me.