Friday, March 24, 2006

Almost Wailing at the Western Wall


DAY: 128 CITY:23 COUNTRY: 6
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL
Today I visited the Western Wall.  The Wall is all that remains from the Temple of Solomon.  After being driven out, murdered, treated like animals and all other assorted persecutions, the Jewish people also had their most holy Temple destroyed over and over again.  The first Solomon's Temple was built in the 10th century BCE.  It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, it was rebuilt then was destroyed again in the year 70 CE by the Roman Empire. Each Temple stood for a period of about four centuries.  Now, all that remains, or perhaps a better word is "survives", is this one retaining wall.
I've been to NotrĂ© Dame, The Cathedral at Chartres, Sagrada Familia and Cairo's Mosque of Mohamed Ali (The Citadel), and have not been as overwhelmed as I was by this leftover crumbling retaining wall.  This wall stands as a testament of survival and beyond any symbology, the palpable mana emanating from it is strong.

This is the place where pilgrims stick prayers into the crevices and stand for hours and pray.  I was overwhelmed to be there, and I actually went to the wall (I had to get and wear a kippah on my head) and said a prayer for Hawai'i, my journey, my friends and my family.  I just stood at the wall.  Then I felt this desire to try to understand what the hell is going on in the Middle East - all the fighting and violence.  A strong and clear image emerged and it made me feel like I understood, at least a bit.  It is the fighting - the desperate, crazy, impossible situation that exists - that serves as a symbol, that in the midst of the "worst of life"- one can choose to find G-d, love G-d, to connect with the divine, the "best of life".  Finding hope in tragedy, living in a found moment of love, even when surrounded by hate and fear 24/7.  It was so overwhelming - this devotion to finding a space of love in the midst of, and despite all the pain and conflict.

The thing that completely threw me for a loop emotionally was seeing a group of young soldiers. Boys and girls age 18,19,20 serving their compulsory military terms - each with their own backpack and machine gun. Kids with machine guns.
This group of teen soldiers just stopped in front of me, plopped down their backpacks, slung their machine guns over their shoulders and walked to the wall to say their evening prayers.  My heart gasped. In the midst of knowing you could die at any moment, the conflict, the fear, the bloody heart-wrenching history... all that HAD to be pushed to the side for a moment. The machine gun had to stay with them even when they walked to the wall, but everything else vanished in that moment except their time with G-d. Standing in the midst of hell, with a gun slung across their chest, they anchored a moment of heaven in that space. The witnessing here for me was not to see the hell mankind can unleash on each other, but rather to see how each individual can choose, in the midst of hell, to survive in love.  Below is the video I attempted to make just then.



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1 Comments:

At 1:19 AM, Blogger Jeff Wyatt Sharpley said...

You can see peoples comments on the video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUh54nYwyrs

 

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