Smiling In Jerusalem
Posted by Somik Raha on Apr 26, 2013
After all, I was told that Israel literally means striving with God and overcoming. What an incredible idea! Here is a group of people who as their spiritual practice commit to striving with God if necessary to uphold their God-inspired values. If they set their mind to it, could anything be impossible?
There is a massive shift here away from rigidity and toward a much more inclusive future, and it seems to be in the air that I've been exposed to. Was touched by our amazing guide - without taking any sides, he honestly and frankly shared all the perspectives he had, including those that were supportive and opposed. Even though he is not a Christian, he shared beautifully about the life of Christ, reminding us that historical authenticity is irrelevant - what has now become a tradition out of solidified belief needs to be appreciated as such.
Saw some of the stations on Christ's walk to his crucifixion. One was that of Simon, who offered to bear the cross for him. Chris replied that this cross was for him to bear for all of mankind. From that comes the phrase, "Each of us must bear our own cross" and it seems to me that we do, by working hard on ourselves, falling and getting up, we are making the world a better place through ourselves. Even our biggest falls are but a prelude to a heroic first step on a 1000-step journey.
Another station was around the meeting with Veronica - her name comes from Veronice, which means truth. She came out to offer Jesus her veil to wipe his head, which he accepted. There are many interpretations of this action, and the one I heard was that this was the Universe's way of indicating that truth was on Jesus's side.
Almost every Church lineage is represented here in Jerusalem, with many of them occupying different sections of the main Church at the site of the crucifixion. At one level, it was pointed out to me that none of the different sects got along. Saladin, the Muslim ruler who threw out the crusaders, was very tolerant of other faiths, and to resolve the infighting amongst the different Church sects, gave the responsibility of keeping the key of the Church to a Muslim family. Descendants of that family fulfill that responsibility to this day. At another level, it was amazing for me to witness different sects who may not agree with each other on so many things, using their total devotion to lift them above their differences and through their diversity, celebrate their unifying love for Christ. That gave me hope - no matter our massive differences, perhaps we can come together after all, without giving up our diversity, and yet celebrate a deep underlying unity.
The Arab quarters were deeply welcoming, and one could see a centuries old tradition of treating guests well still alive. A little sign of their creativity made me smile.
I asked our guide, "Do you have any hope for peace in this land in your lifetime?" He replied, "When I was young, my father prayed that I wouldn't have to go fight in a war or even be a reserve in the army. I have the same prayer for my children."
Touched by the warmth, devotion and welcome from the Jewish, Christian and Arab quarters.