Monday, July 16, 2007

Jerusalem, if i forget you

Team have all gone their separate ways. I'm waiting in Jerusalem alone for a cab to the West Bank checkpoint at Bethlehem. I have had two of the best weeks of my life on so many levels. Emotional, physical, spiritual and craic!

Day 9
Went to the Mount of Olives this morning and walked the Palm Sunday Path. Visited the Garden of Gethsemane. Lots of the places they show you here from the bible are where they 'traditionally believe' Jesus was. They are sure however that this is the garden.

We then went to the place that they traditionally believe is Golgotha and the tomb of Jesus. The guide had some convincing arguments but you could never be sure. Nevertheless it was first century place of crucifixion and burial and so again provides the visual aspect to the bible. We took communion there and it was special.

Hit the town at night with some of the great friends I've found here. It was the opening night of an Irish pub called 'Dublin'. So I took the plaudits like a true Irishman and drank Guinness with a Canadian, 2 Norwegians and a German. Surreal.

Day 10
I helped out this morning at a Shook Carmel Ha'lr soup kitchen. This is a place run by some Jews for the poor and hungry of the Old City of Jerusalem. The key is dignity and giving people a hand up. It looks like a nice restaurant and they come and sit and eat like normal human beings. Rich people come and eat and pay what they want and the poor eat for free. They then follow up on the children and adults that come and help them find a place in life. Awesome.

I sat chopping onions with a Jewish guy with a long beard and we talked about the political situations in Ireland and Israel. Because of my cynical nature I find it hard to accept everything I've been told from people from outside of Israel but this guy gave the troubles here a face.

He was a gentle, peaceful man who talked about his experiences of terror attacks on crowded streets and the day that Arabs shot his best friend as he sat beside him in the car. Chatting with him made me realise that we are not getting the full picture at home. Yes the Israelis have made mistakes but it is obvious that the average person in Jerusalem is living with a great deal of pain from the past and fear for the future.

The most important place was kept to the end. We went up onto the Temple Mount. This is where the temple was originally built, where the 'holy of holys' resided. Now the 'Dome of the Rock' (the Islamic mosque) is built there. As I stood and listened it is clear that this is the most controversial place in the world. The second Intifada started when Ariel Sharon visited it. The Jews pray at the Wailing Wall because it's the closest place they can get to their most holy place. This is occurring in their country. They can excavate around but not under the temple mount. If they did it would be WW3 between Islam and the West and that's not exaggerating. So the Israeli state maintains the status quo.

Everything I originally thought has been turned on its head here. I'm open to it changing again in Palestine. I still find it hard to say I support Israels leaders and its IDF but I have fallen in love with this land.

My mother used to make me pray for peace in Israel before every meal and once again this is my prayer.

Psalm 122 (The Message)
When they said, "Let's go to the house of God," my heart leaped for joy.

And now we're here, O Jerusalem, inside Jerusalem's walls!
Jerusalem, well-built city, built as a place for worship!
The city to which the tribes ascend, all God's tribes go up to worship,
To give thanks to the name of God, this is what it means to be Israel.
Thrones for righteous judgment are set there, famous David-thrones.

Pray for Jerusalem's peace!
Prosperity to all you Jerusalem-lovers!
Friendly insiders, get along!
Hostile outsiders, keep your distance!
For the sake of my family and friends,
I say it again: live in peace!
For the sake of the house of our God, God,
I'll do my very best for you.


davymull said...

hey bro. dave and sheena here. amazzzzzing to read what u r experiencing. we r both so jealous. actually hard to put into words. way u described stuff quality. looking forward so much to hearing palestine stuff and hearing more. we praying for u as your head continues to fry as u continue to learn. amen to that. we having class time in switzerland/ france/ italy. love s&d

Neil Harrison said...

Hey pal, good blogging, sounds awesome! Cant wait to hear more from the 'other side'. Look after yourself!

Anonymous said...

brother!! sitting in work here reading your blog...sounds amazing!! very surreal to think your over there walking the same streets that jesus did but flipping cool! can't wait to hear all and see all your pics on your return!
Your favourite sister, Joyful xxx

Jen said...

I'm with the others..respecting ur honesty about having ur brain fried-still thinking that is good. Nothing is black and white. I used to sing psalm 122 with our old church choir and know the words off by heart-it's a good one-very appropriate.

EilĂ­s said...

every time i read your blog j i'm weeping. for the country you've come to love and our wee country - for the turmoil that on so many levels seems unnecessary yet we can't just stop it. may we learn what is Truth and maybe understand a little more beyond our own cynicism. keep going as much as you can and bring it back to us. praying for your strength.

Anonymous said...

Bible prophecy - The False Prophet is an interesting read.