Thursday, May 24, 2007

Entry: Memories-WAR May 21-25

Wall of the West Bank
by Carolyn Kenney

"For many reasons, we should love." These were some of the first words spoken to our small group by our guide as we began our trip to the Holy Land. We would come to learn more about the people of this land which is so rich in political and religious history and so breathtaking in its beauty.

There is a wall separating Jerusalem from Bethlehem; separating father from son and grandfather from grandchildren. When traveling from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, it is necessary to stop at a checkpoint. The soldiers, who carry machine guns, question everyone. The night our tour group stopped there, they boarded our bus; we showed our passports and shortly left for the hotel.

Over 2000 years ago, Jesus walked this land. As He stood here, did He look into the future and see those who would one day visit the land where He lived? Did He see those who would one day breath its invigorating air, delight in its simple beauty and cherish His Presence - still felt here?

One day, we walked to the Gate of Presentation, not far from an area now under construction and which is a source of unrest. Leading to the Gate are the original steps that Mary and Joseph walked when they carried Jesus to the temple as a baby. These same steps were used by Jesus as an adult. As we sat here, our guide told us the following true story:

Neil Armstrong visited the Holy Land. As he sat on these steps, he said, "I walked on the moon. There is nothing there; I did not feel touched. Here I sit where Jesus walked." He had tears in his eyes. Neil Armstrong landed on the moon! However, he was not moved in his heart and soul in the way he was when he walked where Jesus walked. When Neil Armstrong sat on these steps, he felt something stir in his soul and touch his heart unlike anything he had ever experienced.

This country is steeped in religious history not only of the Christian faith, but also of Jewish and Muslim faith as well. It should be a land of harmony, where all people can worship their God as they choose. It is a land for everyone. As we traveled in the Holy Land, we could feel the presence of Jesus fill our spirits.

I have never witnessed a more compelling sight than the sun rising on the Sea of Galilee in the morning light outside our hotel. A friend later told me of a beautiful quote from the theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand which describes this breathtaking sunrise. It reads as follows, "To whom will the sublime beauty of a sunset or a Ninth Symphony of Beethoven reveal itself, but to him who approaches it reverently and unlocks his heart to it?" I pray God’s majesty and love will forever reign throughout this land.

Submitted by
Carolyn Kenney

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