Israel/Palestine, Part 3

Posted by Dan Cook on 05/10/17 @ 10:21 AM

The Global Immersion Project cultivates everyday peacemakers by educating through immersive experiences within the framework of four interconnected concepts:

See, Immerse, Contend, and Restore.

SEE: What I Saw At The Western Wall

After dinner on our first night in Jerusalem, a handful of us took a walk through The Old City with Jer and ended up at the Western Wall (known in the West as The Wailing Wall). It was a few hours after Sabbath had ended, and I was surprised at how many people were there at 9 or 10 in the evening. Jer explained that men and women had to worship separately and were divided by a fence. One corner of the wall is supposedly on the other side of where the Holy of Holies was before the temple was destroyed and according to Judaism, this is the most holy spot on the planet. Women are not allowed access to this spot because it is on the men's side. I found myself automatically forming judgments about the people making all these rules. It struck me as a microcosm for so many other issues plaguing this country where those in power enforce rules to keep those not in power under their boot heels. But I'm getting ahead of myself in the story of this week.

Still feeling a little cynical, I learned that the remaining structure of the wall wasn't even a part of the destroyed temple, but only the remnants of the wall that Herod had built surrounding the temple. I thought to myself, "why should these stones hold any power?" I felt a little underwhelmed by it all.

The next day we took our official tour of The Old City with the rest of the group and we visited the wall again. Hundreds of tourists scurried this way and that to see the world famous structure. Jews were interspersed among them, practicing their faith in a tangible way-by approaching the wall and uttering their prayers and expressing their sorrows. Then we had the opportunity to approach the wall ourselves. I made my way through the crowd of women and waited for an opening to appear. A sense of reverence descended upon me the closer I came to the wall. When my turn came, I stepped forward and placed my hand on the stones warmed by the sun. Immediately a wave of emotion rushed over me and I burst into tears. I suddenly felt the pain of the people living in this land - their struggles through persecution, displacement, and occupation. What I expected to be an interesting historical experience transformed into something deeply intimate and profound. Women were praying and weeping around me and I felt connected to them. I found myself asking God to "break my heart for what breaks yours." I wanted my heart to remain open and my eyes to see what I might otherwise miss.

Little did I know what this prayer would set into motion for the days to come. To be continued!

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