Saturday, February 19, 2005

Captains log: Star date day 19

What a day.
I went back to the City of David, and bought a ticket this time. That came with a wee booklet informing me about of what I was looking at. Made much more sense this time.

Then I went into Warren's shaft, (that's what I needed the ticket for), one of the first archeological digs from the 1800's, then down into the shaft dug maybe even before David for people to collect water out of the Gishon spring. I hadn't intended walking Hezekiah's tunnel (dug about 2,700 - 2,800 years ago) but three others came as I was leaving, so I just jumped on in there, shoes, socks and all. About 1/2 hour later we popped out at the pool of Shiloam (I make no promises for the spelling here) Amazing stuff to wlk through this windy shaft dug so long ago. This German group behind us just stripped off when they got out. Is there no shame??

Then dripping wet I headed off to my real aim for the day, to walk with Jesus on his last journey. I headed up Mt Zion, pausing at the Basilica where Peter is said to have denied Jesus 3 times. It is built close to where Caiaphas' house was, and included caves with holes for iron rings. Jesus probably would have been held here, and maybe even scourged here. It is probably where Peter and John where held as well
when they were arrested. I am still having trouble getting my head around it all.

Then on up to the room of the last supper, which was about to close. I read the reading, decided it was too draughty and cold, and we went off for muffin and coffee in the Jewish quarter. (We left Judas to pay) Then on down the hill, out at Dung Gate, on down through the Kidron Valley, and up to the Domitius Flavis (again no guarantees for spelling). Here Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Then back down to the Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the rock where he wept alone. Then on down to the Grotto where he was arrested. I was surprised to find that. I didn't know it was there. I left Jesus to it at that point. I wasn't so keen on climbing back up to Caiaphas' house. Meanwhile I found the tomb of Mary, an Orthodox Basilica, next to the grotto. Again, deep down in a cave. I love the smell of incense in these places.

Then it was time to join the throng in Jerusalem. I found the weekly pilgrimage up the Via Dolorosa (got the spelling right this time) led by the Franciscan fathers. What a crowd! Mostly in Latin (what happened to Vatican II) with bits in English and Arabic (I think). I had planned a lengthy lone pilgrimage, but this made it more real somehow.

And that was it. We finished at the tomb. There was no where to sit and be still, The priests were still busy doing priestly things all over the place, so I went for coffee and baklava in fountain square, where I again paid double of what is charged in the Muslim quarter. What more could I do.

Shalom

Discourses, or how we describe each other

So much of how we see and treat each other is determined by how we describe each other. For example, I have been asked how are those "damned Palestinians" described by my Jewish Israeli tour guides. The short answer is, not. The word Palestinian was never used. Only Arab! (Which of course means they could just go live somewhere else cause all Arabs are the same. Soem of the tour group I was with, Americans, actually said this!!!) And historically they are described badly.

Firstly, the Muslims (Arabs) closed the Golden Gate onto Temple Mount specifically to prevent the Jewish Messiah entering. They then built a cemetery in front of the Golden Gate as a second lien of prevention, as no priest (which the Messiah will be) can enter a graveyard, except their own. Well, that may well have been part of it, but I am sure that the desire to not have a large gate opening out from the
enclosure around the Mosques to outside the walls was also a big part in closing the Gates. And Muslims wanted to be buried close to the Mosques, and outside the Eastern Wall (where the Golden Gate is) is about as close as you can get. The other sides had houses.

More recently, The Arabs convinced the British to abandon the Balfour White paper, which argued for a separate Israel, and to arrest illegal Jewish immigrants (which most were) and to send back ships like the Exodus, so that those on board could die. The Arabs were also intent in 1947, 1967, and 1973 on destroying the state of Israel and pushing the Jews back into the sea. They, through the Jordanians divided
Jerusalem, built hotels on the Jewish cemetery, destroyed Synagogues, and forced the Jews out of the Jewish quarter. Egypt and Syria had similar goals in mind but were thwarted. In 1967 Egypt tried to cut Israel's oil supply, and Lebanon tried to cut the water supply, hence the 6 day war. The Arabs who used to live in the 400 odd villages that are now no longer Arab simply ran away from the advancing IDF, who would have done nothing untoward. It was their choice, and because they left, they don't keep their property. The wall is necessary because of terrorists, and is a good thing. Some, like the Druze and Bedouin, are good citizens and join the armed services, but most are not, and fight amongst themselves between Christian and Moslem. They don't finish their houses simply so that they don't have to pay taxes on them.

But that is all historical. We were shown Arab farms alongside Jewish farms as examples of the two people working together. Both our guides described Abbas as a trustworthy peacemaker. Our guide at the end, Eli thought peace had a chance because both Sharon and Abbas were older and grandparents and knew that violence was not the answer. I was surprised to hear Sharon described in that way really. Eli
pointed out that some Arabs join the IDF, and obviously looked to the day when more did. Overall there was a sense of these people are here with us, and we need to make
this work. But we still don't really trust them.

In a way the same can be said for us European Christians. The British Mandate is described as all bad at the end. The holocaust looms very large, as Europe's moment of betrayal. I heard a Jewish guide yesterday talk about how it wasn't the Romans who threw the temple stones down (as the sign said) but the Byzantine Christians, who hated Jews so much. Apart from America, which is a friend, I sensed the rest of the world is not trusted. It seemed clear from the guides, from Yad Vashem (the Holocaust museum) and their own descriptions that Israel could trust only America, and had to look after it's own interests, no matter what anyone else said. But there was also a sense that the hard line attitudes of the past were beginning to thaw in the interests of peace.

The way the stories are told shapes how we see each other. So the history, both real, which is bad enough, and perceived, will take time to overcome. I guess that is what I was trying to blog about last night. The need for repentance from all involved, which, as I was trying to describe means working to undo the damage of past sins.

Enough for now!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Repentance

Lent is about repentance. Often that is described as being sorry and aligning our lives with God, which I sure it is. But I suspect it is more, and being in this place of division has helped me see that.

There is a line in scripture that says that the sins of the fathers are visited on their children, and on their children's children. To put it another way, the consequences of our sins don't stop just because we confess out sins. The consequences continue. The relationships are still fractured. Injustice is still
imbedded. The other is still suffering the pain.

That is certainly true here. Israel and Palestine suffers from the sins of the past. The centuries of abuse, humiliation and murder of the Jewish people by Europeans in particular, that culminated in the Holocaust. All of Europe is accountable, and it is not enough to say that we will not forget. Arab and Palestinian refused to agree to the formation of a Jewish State and through violent means tried very hard to prevent it. They only gave up when it became obvious they just couldn't win. Jewish terrorists and soldiers evicted Palestinians from a huge number of villages, and then confiscated all the land. They are still confiscating land and building new settlements on it. All of us could say sorry. But that would achieve nothing.

What does need to happen is for each of the parties to recognize the sins of the past, and to work to rectify what happened in the past. For Europeans that means working to ensure that there is a safe strong Jewish state. But that also means ensuring that Palestinians are treated well, justly and with respect. It means working to build a strong Palestinian economy in Palestine and in Israel. Only then
will Israel be what is needed, strong and safe. For Palestinian and Jew it means owning and confessing the violence of the past, and working to rebuild or build for
the first time honest respectful and just relationships between the two. For Arabs it means owning their role in the brutality of the past, and working to rebuild Palestinian economy.

I believe that we as Christians could play a really important role in this, and are already. I cannot tell Palestinians how to work this out. They are the ones
suffering through 60 years of humiliation and abuse. But my hope is that one day Christians will take the lead, confess the past, and find ways to build new ways of being together with Jewish Israelis.

Another example of this is the Druze violence. The Christian community justly wants compensation, and for to be so burdensome that it will make Druze think again before they embark on such violence. My take on that is that it ignores
the role of the Christian boy in all this, cursing the Druze boy. That was wrong. What would happen if the Christian community were repentant of that, and then undertook to rebuild the relationships? Again, easy for me to say from the comfort of the sidelines.

Part of the prayer Third Order Franciscans pray each day talks about winning others to love. That is what this is about. Winning people to love. And loving means undoing the wrongs of the past so that a new present and future can be
built. I am not sure this is making sense. It made much more sense in my head.

I will now pray the Prayer of Humble Access with more understanding. Yes I am forgiven. But my sin continues. Repentance occurs when I am willing to work to undo that sin for the other. As an individual that means what happened in my life. As a member of a community, it means owning what has happened in the past, and working to undo that.

When that happens, then there is Shalom/saleem.

The Ancient of Days

The log of a hot hot day in Jerusalem!

Today was the day of old and ancient. I began with a saunter through the Christian and Armenian quarters of the Old City. Then went up onto the Ottoman wall at Jaffa gate (it led to the road to Jaffa, or Joppa, or Tel Aviv now). Fantastic views! You walk along fortifications used by the Jordanians in 1947 - 1967. Snipers used the holes I peered through. I went over Zion gate, which still ahs the bullet marks from
the Jewish fighters in 1947 trying to get into the city, and failing!

I came off the wall just before Dung Gate, and then went into the Archeological Site at the southern end of the Temple Mount. It has been uncovered since 1967. I walked the Herod the Great's main street along the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. I climbed the Crusader (Templar) fortification at the southern end of the Mount. I walked through Early Muslim palaces built on top of Byzantine houses, and then walked through them as well. I walked up to the Hulgah Gates, the main entry into the Temple Compound, on the steps built by Herod. I saw a wall and gate dating
back to the 800's BCE.

After 2 ½ hours I made a wee tactical error of sorts. I wandered down to the Absalom Observation Point, which looks our over the tombs in the Kidron Valley. I then walked down and along the Kidron valley, till I found the Gishon (??) stream and up to the Hezekiah tunnel, built to bring the stream inside the city walls, and the down again to the pool where if came out. But I could not go into any of these
things because I didn't have a ticket. I getting to the tunnel, I discovered later I had climbed most of the way up the hill to the City of David. But in looking for the pool had gone all the way down again. So up I went again, in the heat of the day, to the City for David. I should have gone the other way around, and bought myself a ticket. Anyhow, there I found the 3000 year old remains of the Northern and
Southern Towers of David's City. 3,000 years old!!!!

Now thoroughly hot and tired, I returned through the Armenian Quarter, back to St. Georges, buying a beautiful stole on the way.

Finally, why are their Armenians in Jerusalem? Because around the end of WW1, the Turks with the help of the Kurds, did their level best to exterminate them. Over 2,000,000 died, or 60% of the total population. Many were murdered. Man more died on forced marches. Some of dehydration, some (men mainly) murdered, and many women and girls were taken. Those who survived arrived in Syrian and here, often
penniless, and nearly naked. I read accounts written by Consulate staff last night. The European powers protested, but did nothing. Turkey still denies it happened. I had a long talk with an Armenian about it today. His concern is that the Kurds in Turkey are suffering the same brutal suppression today.

A hot day. A great day of History, some amazing, some sad and brutal.

Tomorrow I hope to retrace the supposed journey of Christ, from the room of the Last Supper, to the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane, and then through the Lions Gate and up the Via Delarosa to Holy Sepulchre.

Shalom.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Holocaust

One of the more moving things I have done was to go to the Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem. More than anything it helped me understand the imperative for the state of Israel, and the history of what we see happening today. I also grieved that so little has been learnt, and politicians and using the same lines to day as they did in the 1930's to wash their hands of the Jewish problem.

What I hadn't known was that when Hitler first moved to push all Jews out of Germany, the rest of the world closed their borders. At an international meeting to discuss solutions, lines like, "It is an internal problem, we can do nothing",
and (from Australia) "We have no racial problems here, so will not allow any Jews in" (Sound familiar?) Britian, under pressure from the Arabs, closed off Palestine, arrested the illegal immigrants they caught, and send any ships they caught back (to the death camps) What is also clear is that the Allied Command knew what was happening in the camps and chose to do nothing. When faced with extermination no-one
came to the rescue of the Jewish people. Consequently, and Israel that was Jewish, where Jews were in control and could decide their own fate became a necessity. Even then, in the face of Arab hostility, little was done to find a way through and to help create such a space. Now I understand the Israeli psyche so much more. And I am warned not to become anti-Jewish or even anti-Israeli because of the treatment of Palestinians, both those in Israel, and those in the West Bank and Gaza.

Two other reflections on all this. The first was my anger at reading the description of the Warsaw ghetto. Firstly that we as humans would even do that, and secondly that you could take the work Warsaw out and put Gaza in, and so much of it
still rang true. I cannot comprehend how a people who suffered so horrifically can repeat in some degree that treatment on to others and not expect the same violent
reaction.

Secondly, I was intrigued on our tour how Jewish Insurgents/Terrorists are lauded as freedom fighters. Same tactics, just on the other side! What lesson is their in
that for us?

Cruising in Israel

Well, I survived going to the Druze village. (I had to wear a dog collar again, with black cassock!!)

The scene and the story from the village is really sad stuff. The Druze are a off-shoot of Islam, who follow Jethro, Moses father in law. They live in Israel, Syria and Lebanon. They only marry within their own people, and their religion is fully known only by their sheikhs, so is a secret.

Anyway, a Christian boy and a Druze boy had a fight it seems, and the Christian boy cursed the Druze. To get him back, the Druze boy made up a story about there being pictures of naked Druze girls on the internet. This incited shocking violence, shops, houses and cars burned, the church attacked, and 3,000 Christians (I think) fleeing to safety. Even though the Druze boy has been caught, the violence continues. So so sad.

Monday night Samuel and Susan invited me to go out with their family and another family to celebrate Valentines day. Midday is the main meal, so at 10pm we went to a very nice place near the Catholic Church of the Annunciation, and I had a great time, even though much of the conversation was in Arabic. I wondered how my own family would cope, and how our kids would cope. They start school at 7.30 here, not
8.30 or 9.00!!!! I got home about midnight.

I spent Tuesday cruising around Nazareth. Read the story of the annunciation in the church, looking at the grotto which is supposed to be Mary's house. Went to the Orthodox church, over a well, (they believe the annunciation happened at the well, not Mary's house) and just cruised really. Then went to Garth Hewitt's concert. He is really strong on Palestinian rights, and his whole concert was about Israel and
Palestine. Good stuff. He is here with a group of 20's and 30's introducing them to life as a Palestinian Christian in Israel.

Today I caught a taxi (Serut style) at about 7.15 to Jerusalem, and today went to the Citadel of David (really built around one of Herod the Great's towers) and then
wondered into Modern Jerusalem. Tomorrow I hope to do the wall walk, visit the City of David, and finish my shopping.

I want to do some serious reflecting soon.

Shalom

Thursday, February 10, 2005

A Day Walking with Jesus

It didn't snow to day, but it was close while we were in Bethlehem.

Today we have been to Bethlehem, which meant leaving our guide and bus in Israel,(as no Israeli is allowed into the West Bank cities) and getting a Palestinian guide and vans.

It was very different with this group than being with the group last week. Some of them are struggling with the whole scene really. I am however grateful that it is quiet, and that I have had time to stop and pray there.

After serious shopping in Bethlehem, we went on to the scale model of the Roman Jerusalem, which was very helpful. Then on to the via delarosa, lunch (at 2pm) and then on to Holy Sepulchre, again for me. I am begining to get into that place now, and am finding it much more helpful and deepening. After going to the Western wall, and praying again for peace, the rest went back to the bus, and I walked back
through the old city. Most of our group were amazed I had even been to the old city on my own, and couldn't imagine walking back when it was getting dark. Even Ehud warned me because I was in an Arab area. Next week I will have to be out after dark to eat dinner. And now I have just been to the Ash Wednesady service at the catheral, which was in Arabic.

Tommorrow we are off with a new guide to Galillee. It is forecast to be cold and snowing till Saturday, the end of the tour.

Time for dinner I think.

Shalom

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

HOPE??

Is there hope in this land? That is a big question!

First, the meeting I came for. It is the Steering Committee of the International Anglican Youth Network. It was our first meeting. And part of our agenda was working out what we are on about, and what we should be doing. The group represents Youth Officers from Anglican Churches all over the world, with different languages, cultures, theologies, united in our work with young people. Part of what we worked
on what how to help this group communicate more, and work together. Another part was trying to respond to the Report (the Windsor Report) and how the Anglican Communion can continue to function in the face of different churches stands on homosexuality. My view is that it must continue, to do otherwise is an offence against the Gospel. That is made clear here in Jerusalem where we Christians still fight over who can use Holy Sepulcre when, like at Easter last year. We are so disunited, because pride in the past seperated us. We cannot seperate more!

I also think that we will only stay together if we really want to stay together, and not because we are made to sign up to an agreement that spells out what we can and can't do.

Finally, we will only stay together if we take Jesus words seriously, and stop trying to remove the speck out of each others eyes, and focus on the logs in our own eyes. None of us has the right to sit in judgement on anyone else, for we
are all sinners. We need greater humility as lived by Saint Francis.

Well, that will do for now, but I want to continue this with reference to Hope in this land.

shalom

Cold and chilly

Well, it snowed here today, in Jeruslaem, which means it was very very cold. Tomorrow we are outside nearly all day. Brrrrr!

The meeting is finished, and now I am being a tourist. Sunday I went on a shared taxi
(sherut) down to Tel Aviv, for 20 shekels (NIS), and then caught a taxi to the hotel for 50 (NIS). The hotel did not have booking for me, but let me in. I was feeling very tense until the tour guide turned up at 8am next morning.

Yesterday we did Masada, and the Dead Sea, I have photos to prove that I floated in it. It tastes gross, and feels really oily, but wasn't too cold, considering how cold it was out of the water. I am with a group of Amercians who are mostly nice, and are loving all this liberating Arab villages stuff. Masada is an amazing place, and an amazing story, of heroism, stupidity, and the desire not to be a slave. It is also so bleak and dry. Yet 2,000 years ago it had a beautiful palace, some crops, and was safe. Yet the Romans were able to defeat after three years. From the top you can still see where all the Roman camps were, and the wall they built around Masada. 957 men, women and children held off 14,000 Roman legionairres for three years. Amazing!

Today we did Church of the Agony at Gethsename, Room of the Last Supper, the Domition Abbey (where the sleeping Mary went to heaven) which is new and very beautiful, then the Museum of the Holocaust, the Chagal windows, and the Shrine of the Book, with the Dead Sea Scrolls and the the very first Book of Hebrew Scriptures written in about 1,000 CE in Tiberias (book rather than scroll) This was partly destroyed in 1947 in anti Jewish riots in Syria where it was.

Busy days. And tomorrow Bethlehem again, Via Delarosa, and Holy Sephulcre (again) It is really interesting hearing the other side of the story.

Shalom

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Justice and Peace

Today has been a quiet day. WE met the Bishop, and then attended an ordination of a young American man here for 2 years as part of the Episcopal church of the USA young adult mission and ministry program. It was nice to be part of it, although is was an ECUSA service transplanted. I sat among several Palestinian priests who sang loudly in Arabic.

I learnt yesterday about Palestinians in East Jerusalem being Jordanians by passport (because of the 1948-1967 occupation of East Jerusalem by Jordan.) But they are not really Jordanians, so are kind of in limbo. It is one of the fuels for wanting to be part of Palestine.

I also learnt that Israeli Palestinians are not called up to military service. On one hand that is good. It is heart breaking to see these kids standing around holding their machine guns, checking travel documents at checkpoints, being placed with such responsibility and fear so young. But because the Palestinians do not serve, they are excluded from mainstream Israeli economic life. Without a military number they cannot even clean Pizza places. It means Palestinians have to create their own economy. It also means they are treated like second class citizens in their own land. To be Israeli means to be a Jew, (Orthodox Jews also do not serve, but are given a military number)

It would be easy to get angry, and I do. Yet the gospel calls for compassion, and it calls for me to take the log out of my own eye first.

It does make me wonder how we treat Maori in our land. Not as extreme, yet by calling "white culture" New Zealand culture, we exclude Maori and treat them like second class people in their own land. Hence they get angry, like Palestinians get angry.

Till tomorrow.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Journeying up North

This will be short, with little reflection. More a "this is
what I did today."

Today we went up north (not as far as the snow) thru the
West Bank, past Jericho, which is still closed, to Galilee.
We stopped at the Jordan River (most of the water is taken
now for Israeli irrigation schemes) to the Church at the
Mount (Sermon of) then to where Peter met the resurrected
Jesus, which has soem very cool Byzantine mosaics. I
accidently spent moeny there! Then we had lunch of Peter
fish and chips. ($50 each - lucky work is paying for that
one)

After lunch, we went to Capernaum,where Jesus based himself,
then Cana, and then Nazareth to the Bascilica of the
Annunciation. It was started in the 1960's, and is stunning.
We didn't have enough time there and I am really looking
forward to going back. Just breath taking, both levels.

I had better go, there is soemone waiting for me to finish
Keep praying for peace
shalom

Friday, February 04, 2005

Pilgrimmage

Hi
Last night we had a candlemass service. As we read the
Psalm, I was struck by how more real it all was being in
Jerusalem. We are not talkign about some far off and
mythical place. It is real, and it is still in turmoil.

That turmoil was reinforced today when we went to Bethlehem.
Our host, who is an Israeli Palestinian cannot go into the
West Bank. He came with us, but it was risky. As we drove
into the West Bank, we were taken through the new wall. It
is an abomonible thing, cutting through the country, cutting
familues in half, holding the Palestinians in their ghetto.
The strife goes on.

When we prayed the "Jesus have mercy" before the eucharist,
I was struck by the fact that although our sins are
forgiven, the carry on. The behaviour of Christians here in
the Holy Land, and in our treatment of Jews over 2000 years
has given brith to todays conflict. We are part of the
cause. It is not enough for me to feel outrage. We need ot
acknowledge our part, and to work for a better future. I
just don't know how ot do that. But I do know that that is
also true in my own land. I will approach pentitence very
differently from now.

Today we visited the birthplace of Christ (by tradition) the
field of the Shepherds, and their caves, (all of which is
within walking distance of Jerusalem) drove past Gethsename,
went again to Holy Sepulchre, and then walked back down the
via Delarosa. It still seems so surreal that I could be
standing where the Christian story began, and the key sites
of teh Incarnation, where Christs poverty was absolutely
expressed. It is one thing to pray and reflect about these
in NZ, but to be there. It is just so surreal.

One highlight was goign for a breif but scary camel ride.
teh worst part is whiel the camel is getting up. I thought I
was goign to fall off.

Enough for today. Tomorrow we go North to Galillee.

Shalom

Thursday, February 03, 2005

A beginning

The real reason for this trip is a meeting of the Steering
Committee for the new International Anglican Youth Network.
It is a great group to belong to. It is inspring the hear
the issues faced by Anglicans around the world, and how they
respond. We are part of a church that is weeking to make a
realy difference in young peoples lives across the globe.
The last of our group arrived this morning, and we began our
meeting. More another time

Re yesterdays reflection on veneration. The following
comment was offered by my wife, Bonnie
" It's strange about the veneration thing - As you say, holy
sights are not in our cultural experience - except places
like Riverslea. You also have no reference points for many
of the places in the city - we don't see them on the news -
they're not in TV programmes - so you're a whole lot more
familiar with NY." Good points really.

I wasn't worried about the veneration thing, but intrigued
by it really. But I do feel like an outsider everywhere,
which is slightly off putting. I have seen some of it on tv.
Dome of the Rock, Holy Sepulchre, Damascus gate. I
recognised Holy Selpuchre when I stumbled over it accidently
on Monday. I wonder how this affects the way we practice
spriutality, and teh role of place in all of that, and how
that can be addressed in terms of youth ministry.

Questions to ponder another time

Shalom


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Cruisey Day


I have had another cruisey day. I slept well till 5am when
the Mullahs woke me with prayer.

I at last got in to the compound of the Dome of the Rock
today. Both the mosques are now permantly closed to all non
muslims, which is a bit sad. But it was still an awesome
expereince to be standing where the temple once stood, and
to be standing on such a holy site for muslims.

I also went back to Holy Sepulchre, with a bit more
knowledge, and a bit less tired, and was able to enter into
the whole experience a bit more. As I was sitting and
praying outside the Dome of the Rock, I was reflecting
though how even in the Christian holy sites, I feel like an
outsider. I am not entering the experience as others are. To
see people enter the tomb on their knees in prayer,
venerating the cross, walking the via delarosa (I don't even
know if that is spelt right) humbles me, and challenges my
lack of veneration. I guess part of it is living in a place
that has no holy sites as such. And part of it is me, But I
find it really interesting. I felt more in New York for
goodness sake!! What is wrong with me.

The Old City is growing on me. I was overwhelmed by the
narrowness, the business, the strangness of it all
yesterday. It really was clautrophobic! Today I felt a lot
more comfortable, and even wondered if there were less
people. What is more, I can find my way around now without
looking at a map. Where is the fun in that. How can you get
lost when that happens.

It is an amazing place. Full of rubbish, everything squashed
into these narrow alleyways. People and carts jossling you
out of the way. Vendors inviting you in, no pressure to buy
of course (what ever) People offering to quide you, then
asking for money. Some of the shops are small and dark.
There are old bakeries, butchers with the meat hanging in
the street. Coffee makers brewing their coffee over kerosine
stoves (what would our expresso devotees say about that!!)
and in amongst it all some very modern shops. When you look
down on this from above, you can't see any of it. It is all
closed over. It rained today, but I didn't feel the rain, I
just noticed the road was getting wet and slippery. It all
seems so much more human and intimate than our roomy malls
and hi-tech coffee.

That will do for today.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Arrived

Hi all
I am here in Jerusalem. I can hardly believe it!

I have to admit I am feeling a little stuffed though. 24 hours flying, 5 hours in Hong Kong, and arriving in Israel at 4.20am didn't help much. To help the jet lag I had about 3 hours sleep, and then went cruising into the Old City.

What an experience. I felt claustrophobic at times. I missed the gate I was supposed to go in (The Damscus Gate) and went in the New Gate, had no idea where I was, got even more lost in the tiny narrow little alleyways, and had a great time. I stumbled over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (where Christ is said to have been crucified, and buried and resurrected. It is multi layered, and kind of cool. But also really run down and scodie in lots of ways. The trouble is us Christians can't get together and agree on anything. Apparently a Muslim family hold the keys, and lock up each night and open it in the mroning. We can't even lock our own church!!! I have to say there was a really nice Franciscan chapel which I really enjoyed being in.) I had no idea what I was looking at, but that was ok. It was nice just being there and soaking up others devotion. I then wandered around till I found myself at the West Wall (or Wailing Wall, the remains of Herod's Temple compound), wandered back and found the Damscus Gate, then did the Via Delarosa, (the route that Christ took to his crucifixion, except that is several feet below today's streets, and it is likely he was not comdened at the Temple, but Pilates residence, and therefore came in another way anyway)) went back to the Wailing Wall, and actually went to it this time and prayed, read up about the Church of the HS, and went back there. A very good day.

It was also a sad day, reading what the three faiths have done to each other over the last 1500 years. None of us have behaved well. In a place that could be so much more, it is so sad to see and expereince the tension, and at times hatred. The last of the fighting was in the 1960's, but the army is all over the place. It made me thankful for where we live, and that we don't need all our young peoople to be in the army, to keep their weappons with them at all time for 2 years of their lives. Why is it I wondered that so many NZ'ers seem intent on dividing and hightening the tensions in our land. We should be warned by what has happened here, and work to bring better ways of being.

that is enough for today