A Travellerspoint blog

Experiencing Three Faiths

The Western Wall, Harem al-Sharif, and the Pools of Bethesda


Reveille was at 5:15 this morning, as we departed early to get to the Temple Mount before the lines closed it or soldiers jammed it or some scheduling conflict (perhaps tomorrow being Yom Kippur) changed the accessibility. We began at the Western Wall, both men’s and women’s sides crowded with people praying and fighting for their turf and elbowing us away and speaking more loudly (devoutly??) than their neighbors. At one level the environment was totally lacking in spiritual meaning, but at another, we were moved to see people from all over the world moving to get close to God. Probably none of them believed that they were trying to touch God but all of us hoped that we were doing something holy by placing our prayers and the prayers of friends we brought along into the tiny spaces of the Temple foundation. Surely we knew that we had to move forward and try, that we couldn’t let these precious papers fall to the ground.
Next through security to go up to Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. We bumped into Jewish groups eager to get ahead of us, and we waited for soldiers, who looked like they were adolescents, carrying rifles and tear gas canisters. And then we stood in the delight of seeing the beauty and peace of this Muslim masterpiece, sad that we were not allowed to go in and sad that we were hurried along and told not to look inside. Religion in this land is not very welcoming or inclusive. It seems to be more a matter of claiming rights and resources.
Next on to the pools of Bethesda where Jesus healed a paralytic and where we sat and hoped for healing of all our wounds and of those we love. Bill and Hope anointed the group and prayed foe each one, andmany eyes filled with tears. Ann Hutchinson led us as we sang hymns in St. Annes Church, site of Mary’s birth, and we heard angels sing with us. After standing on the site of Jesus miracle (perhaps right HERE), Jane Charlesworth asked wistfully if we could sing again, so we returned to church and sang Christmas carols until pilgrims from South Africa came to join us.
There are no photos today because we could not bring cameras through security. (But Ann H. Did get her pitch pipe in!)

Posted by HopeEakins 06:58 Archived in Israel

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What a lovely description of a beautifully complex situation. No pictures were necessary to show us how it feels to be so close to places of religious significance.

Thank you all for being there and sharing, praying and singing.


by webtoad

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