Sunday’s update from the Holy Land

Today, Sunday, was a mixed day with the theme of glimpses of hope being a bit more prevalent.

We began the day with a 2hr drive to three towns over from Bethlehem for mass.  It took 2hrs because instead of going in a more direct way we had to go out of Palestine into Jerusalem, around Jerusalem and through a second check point to re-enter Palestine.  The direct route is only for Palestinians and not Israelis or foreign persons.  This will discourage foreign persons to going into Ramallah and other West Bank cities and towns easily.

The trip was worth it as we enjoyed Mass at the local parish.  It was mostly in Arabic, however it could easily be followed.  The people were incredibly welcoming and kept inviting us to share the story of their struggles under occupation.

One gentleman, Amel, had just returned from California with his family.  In the economic downturn of the U.S. He and his family were going to have to move into what he described as a gang neighborhood.  He felt it was much safer in Palestine than the U.S.  This was one of those statements of interest.  The perception in the U.S. is that Palestine is dangerous.

Following mass we enjoyed a lunch  at a senior citizen center started by HCEF in support of the Christian seniors.  Through the senior center, mass, and the experience of prayer with the Nassar family at the Tent of Nations the previous day, I was able to witness a deep hope in change based in faith.  The hope is not one of naivete, but one that is clearly based on a belief of God’s support.

Following the meal we drove to the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives.  It is clearly a holy place with some ancient olive trees that may have witnessed Jesus’ agony in the garden.  The garden shares space with the Church of Many Nations which is built over a large rock where tradition has it that Jesus sweat tears of blood.  It is a place that does give a sense of awe, and a place where we prayed for the agony of the Holy Land to find a resolution.  The church itself was built with the shared resources of 16 nations coming together.  Again a witness to the in-breaking of hope over agony.

We completed our day going to the Wailing Wall.  This is Judaism’s  most holy site.  It is the remainder of a retaining wall that was built up above the Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.  The Jewish people believe that it contains a piece of God who entered there upon the destruction of the Temple.  People place small pieces of paper with prayers.

Above the Wailing Wall is the Dome of the Rock and a Mosque.  This is built on the Temple Mount and is considered the 3rd holiest site in Islam because it is where they believe the Prophet Mohammad went up to heaven from the rock.

The tying of holiness to the land is such a source of conflict.  But this is for another day’s reflections.

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Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 4:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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