Journey to the Holy Land – Day 8

October 31, 2010

Ah, Halloween!  I’m going to miss those cute munchkins coming to the door.  In years gone by, when we had our Labs, they always greeted the kids, too, and it made the little ones so happy to be able to pet them.

I took a walk into Beit Sahour this afternoon with a goal of finding the place called Shepherd’s Field.  Ok—so I don’t have a walking GPS and I didn’t take a map but I thought “How hard can it be to find?”  The signage left a bit to be desired but each time I stopped to ask for directions, everyone was so helpful.  It appeared that I was on the last leg of my journey as I approached the church that was pointed out to me.  But the sign on the gate said something about a Greek Orthodox Monastery.  Not to be deterred, I entered the courtyard anyway as I saw a tour bus just outside.  I spoke with the driver and he said that this site is commemorated by the Greek Orthodox Church as the site of the angels appearing to the shepherds.  I asked where the Latin Catholic site was, and he gave me some additional directions that sounded as though it was not too distant.  But alas, I could not find it so gave up and retraced my steps back home.

It is not unusual for different Christian denominations to disagree on the Holy site of an event.  I remember last year when we visited Galilee our guide pointed out a water well where the Greek Orthodox believe the angel appeared to Mary while the Latin Catholics revere the site where the Church of the Annunciation stands.

On my way back to Bethlehem, I saw four young girls who were probably between the ages of 6 and 11 and three of them seemed to be dressed in costumes like princesses.  I stopped them and asked if they celebrate Halloween but the older girl said no.  I didn’t get a chance to ask why there were dressed the way they were but I did persuade them to let me take their picture.  I hope to begin posting some of the photographs soon.

Return with me now to this morning…I know–out of time sequence but bear with me—it’s an author’s prerogative.  One of my co-workers suggested that I might like to attend the 11 o’clock Mass at St. Catherine’s Church because it is a folk Mass with lots of upbeat music so off I headed with that time and destination in mind.  As I tried to enter the church I was stopped by a man who said that Mass would be starting and that tourists could not enter.  I said I was there to attend Mass and he said it is in Arabic and that he could direct me to an Italian or English Mass but I said no—that I wanted to attend this one.  He finally let me enter with the admonition “no pictures.” 

Even though I did not understand the words, I enjoyed the lively music and, of course, the order of the liturgy is the same so that was easy to follow.  There is something to be said for the pre-1963 Latin liturgy.  We may not have been aware of what exactly the Latin words meant that we were singing and responding to but it was familiar no matter what church you attended in most any country.   I was delighted when they sang the Kyrie and Alleluia verse in Latin and I could join in.

After Mass I decided to take another walk in the “old city” but this time took a different street that runs parallel to the one I have walked twice before.  The difference between the two streets, which are no more than a short city block apart, was quite astounding.  Whereas the first street I had walked was full of vendors trying to sell their wares to tourists, the second street seemed to be frequented by the local population

I came upon a large covered marketplace where many people had fruits, vegetables, and meat to sell.  There were also some small shops that carried mostly everyday need type items.  It was fun to watch all of the activity.  I frequently saw young boys pushing shopping carts, sometimes empty and sometimes full of goods.  I think they might have been going down to the square and picking up the items from locals who were transporting the produce to the market.  Cars cannot go up those narrow streets.  When I walked outside of the market, I saw another interesting activity.  It appeared to be similar to our flea markets where second hand goods were being sold.

As I continued my walk, I found many different kinds of shops including a hair salon, a furniture store, and a shoemaker who was busy repairing a pair of sneakers.  He was gracious enough to allow me to take his picture as he worked. 

I am looking through a totally different lens on this journey than I did a year ago.  My spirit tells me to look deeper into the lives of the Palestinians and to try to sense what their daily lives and struggles are.  Yesterday, when I walked on Star Street, I passed a shop where a man and two women were working at sewing machines.  There was white fabric that had been sewn and was lying to one side but I could not tell what the product was.  I stopped and returned to the shop to ask what they were making but neither the man or women spoke English.  As much as I would have liked to take a picture, I felt it would be rude to do so when I could not communicate properly with them.  I wish I had had more time to learn Arabic with my tutor before I came but the time was too short between when my employer approved the time off and the beginning of my trip.

I missed another opportunity to photograph an everyday event.  A few days ago, as I was walking back to my residence, I passed a man washing his car.  That doesn’t sound too awe- inspiring as an event to capture but it was what he was using to wash the car that caught my attention.  It was a blue bucket shaped like a heart!  My brain talked me out of doing something that my heart told me I shouldn’t miss.  Perhaps I will learn to listen more to my heart.

Rest well, my friends, and remember to listen to your heart.

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Published in: on October 31, 2010 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

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