“Tell me about your trip,” my friends ask, curious about my first visit to Israel or just being kind.  So I begin to try to adequately describe a piece of geography where seemingly every square inch tells a story of world-changing significance.

“The Jordan river is way smaller than you think,” I weakly begin.  “We ate breakfast on the Sea of Galilee and saw a fishing boat that has recently been discovered that dates back to the time of Jesus.  The Dome of the Rock is huge and impressive, we were not allowed to go inside.  The stations of the Cross are just tile numbers in buildings around the old city and people crowd the narrow streets doing business in the market, as if nothing ever happened there.  We visited an olive factory and bought some crosses.  The fort at Masada is quite moving and the view from the top is staggering.  We saw the Dead Sea.”  I ramble on in no specific order.  I pull out my cell phone camera roll for a little memory boost and try to ignore the nagging image that my heart recalls.

I see a wall.  It is made of beautiful cream-colored  ancient stones, piled way above the bobbing heads of the people who line it’s base.  They are rocking and chanting and praying, reaching up, out and over the wall to an unseen hand.  They are placing little scraps of paper into crevices in the wall.  One can’t know the content of their lamentations but it’s easy to imagine that they contain some version of unuttered need that screams, “I am in need, hear me.”

The wailing wall

Less than 6 miles away there is another wall.  It is made from ugly columns of dirty concrete and topped with tall rows of electric wire. To enter Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, one must cross this formidable barrier through turnstiles and checkpoints.  Scrutiny from guards shouldering rifles is a daily ritual for those passing from one side of the wall to the other.  The wall begs to be breached and the lamentations of the Palestinians are as unique and numerous and as they are evocative.  Each mark expressing a cry for help and the need to be heard.

I profess to have little to no understanding of what it is like to live in this region of profound historical and religious heritage and ever-present fear of imminent conflict.  As an outsider, I try to wrap my mind around the people who stand and weep before both walls and wonder if I too should weep.

Palestine Israel WallIsrael Palestine WallIsrael, Palestine Wall


Is there any hope?

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”

Ephesians 2:14 NIV


A no Class in first Class

I was getting all cozied up in my roomy seat, pillow and blanket perfectly tucked and positioned. My People Magazine lay in my lap begging for perusal, a guilty pleasure reserved for long trips only. I was sipping on a complimentary beverage and thinking how wonderful it is to be upgraded even if it means cashing in all those flyer miles my husband has accumulated. Hardly a fair trade for the times he had to spend the night away from home in another city, but balancing the scales somewhat when we get to fly some place fun, together, sometimes in first class.

There was a woman a couple of rows in front of me who had somehow managed to down 2 free cocktails and was hailing the flight attendant for another. I had noticed her before, in fact, I am pretty sure everyone else had too. She was that person who wants everyone to hear every word of her every conversation. I rolled my eyes at my husband and tried not to judge. But just so you know, she is the one whom you pray you don’t have to sit near on a long flight.

Overpriced seats on a plane are discretely segregated from their cheap seats companions by a curtain which is sometimes held open by velcro ties. The curtain now fell in full splendor across the divide, the ties having been released. A woman from behind the ivory curtain brushed past me with her young daughter on their way to the bathroom.

Loudmouth, obnoxious, inebriated woman began to rail against the visiting intruder saying, “This bathroom is for first class passengers only. Your bathroom is in the back of the plane. Someone check her ticket.”

There was an uncomfortable silence in the cabin as the stunned mother placed her hands on her daughter’s shoulders and gently turned her around. With flushed face, lowered eyes and stooped demeanor they walked back to their proper place.

A few minutes later, that same mother and child returned. The mother, fully recovered from the unexpected personal assault, marched with her head held high straight for the first class toilet. She stopped at the abrasive woman’s seat, looked her square in the eye and stated in a clear, measured voice, “Nobody is going to tell my daughter that she doesn’t belong in a first class bathroom.”

I was bursting with silent applause and admiration as they proceeded to use the facilities and exit with the triumphant stride of self-respect. The offensive woman, not about to be outdone, had to have the last word. “That’s what happens when you have a no Class in first Class!”