Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And So It Begins

I lit a candle yesterday for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  And I really meant it this time.

It wasn't a candle of general hope for world peace or intellectual political despair or religious commitment to a Jew or a Muslim.  It was a desperate prayer for no conflict on the ground in the region - for at least six months.  

My niece flew to Tel Aviv yesterday.  She will be studying at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem until June.  I am now personally invested in the longing for peace in the Middle East.

Taylor is a brilliant and beautiful and industrious student of life.  This opportunity to live and learn in a culture so distant, yet so familiar via the context of the stories she's heard about Jesus, was just too good to miss.  I'm thrilled about her being there.  I know both Taylor and the world will be better for this adventure.  I believe she will come back to us a generous world citizen with new and compassionate views.  She will, likewise, leave her unique mark on everyone who crosses her world-explorer path.

I am also terrified. There is just no way to feel completely at ease with a loved one living in Jerusalem these days.  The sword rattling absolutely never ends over there.  The missile launchers and the bomb planters and the politicians all stay so completely on edge over who lives where and with what rights, you never really know when one poorly timed comment or bully faced military shift or diplomatic posturing will loose the hair that sits on the trigger of violent reaction. 

So I pray a desperate prayer for at least six months of peace. 

And while I do that, I feel certain Taylor will seize every moment of her Great Explore: 

Within old Jerusalem’s walled city is the site of Abraham’s would-be sacrifice of his son, Isaac or Ishmael (depending on the religion). The Islamic shrine known as the Dome of the Rock, built in 691, stands on the location today. In ancient times both the original and rebuilt Jewish Temples were situated there.  Jews still call it the Temple Mount.  Taylor will see these things and understand the conundrum of a divided Jerusalem like none of us who have never traveled there really can.
The Western Wall is what remains of the stone perimeter that once surrounded the grounds of the Jewish Temple. Taylor will likely touch that wall and feel the presence of all the saints - both Jew and Arab.

Jerusalem’s old walled city also holds what is thought to be the site of Christ’s Crucifixion, where today stands the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  Taylor will, no doubt, pause and pray a Christian's prayer at that spot.

Meanwhile, the rippling effect of her adventure begins with this reality:  The educational journey of one young woman from a suburban setting in the red state of Texas leaves a family of 19 aunts and uncles and grandmother and cousins - typically at odds over religion and politics - united in one grand wish for peace. 

And so it begins with us. Peace. 

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