June 29 - 30, 2015
The cool of the morning has become my favorite time of day in Jerusalem. Sunlight shimmers in the gentle breeze; partners in a dance unique to this day, yet somehow timeless. Together they weave, twirl, and frolic; playfully bidding all round them wake, stir, shrug the lingering darkness, and join them in the creation of a new day.
In the cool of the morning I saw Chris off, as she made her way back to Tel Aviv for a midday flight home. She has gifted me with these few days to wander the Old City, reflect, pray, and begin to discern meaning in the wealth of experience this journey has afforded. She’s good this way, my Christina; nevertheless she shamelessly points out that she will have opportunity to love on our son and play with our furry children – Rosa, Prince, Sasha, and Tux – long before I. She and Jamie will join me in Birmingham later this week to celebrate the 4th with my extended family; but it will be well into next week before I finally arrive home.
In the cool of the morning I said goodbye to a new Israeli friend – Yossi – who has been our gracious host in Jerusalem. He was leaving, not I; he has lost his father, and left to be with his family and bid his dad one final shalom. We offer him our deeply felt condolences; and promise to pray for his dad, him, and his family in the days ahead.
In the cool of the morning I lingered reverently at the Temple Mount, the Pools of Bethesda, and the Garden Tomb. As I strolled between the Tomb and the Place of the Skull – held by many to be the crucifixion site of Jesus – I was vicariously included in the passionate expressions of joy, awe, and gratitude of a small group of pilgrims who clearly came to Jerusalem for its spiritual wealth, not its souvenirs and trinkets. My experience has been more introspective and quiet; nevertheless it has not been so very different from theirs. Jerusalem is a place in which peoples, cultures, and faiths of all stripes cross paths; so when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem as bidden by the appeal posted near the Garden Tomb, we are praying for the peace of all.
In the cool of the morning two days hence, I will bid farewell to Jerusalem, and to the other sites along the path of what has truly become a pilgrimage: Capernaum, Nazareth, Istanbul, Ephesus, Cappadocia, Sarajevo, Venice, Florence, Rome, the home of our dear friends in Rhode Island, New York, and Lodi, California. It will be a special blessing for me to reunite with my family for too few days (always too few days) in Birmingham, before finally returning home.
This will probably be my last blog entry for this pilgrimage; bittersweet, yes; but the discipline has kept me grounded and connected with people I love, and has started the process of giving form and substance to the thoughts, feelings, and images that continue to swirl in my spirit. Without it, they may well have proven overwhelming.
Now I will rest, and wait yet again for the cool of the morning. Salaam, Shalom, and Peace.