I left shaken

2003 is effectively over, and tonight I’ll begin 2004 here in Jerusalem with Becky. I’m amazed at how much has changed this year, and this strange culmination of it only serves to reinforce my amazement. There’s been many days in the past few months when I’ve yearned for a return to the relatively simple & comfortable existence I had back in Cleveland, but that’s impossible. I’ve made the decision to go, and the only real choice I have now is how far to take my life, which way to go from here… because there’s no going back, there never really was.

The last coupla days I’ve been kinda sick again — today I’m feeling better but Becky is feeling sick. We’ve still been seeing the city, however…

I left off on Monday at the Old City, yes? The Old City is the historic part of Jerusalem where Jesus hung out and was killed, and it is one of the oldest and most spiritually significant places in the world. Much of it consists of a maze-like series of stone walkways, many of them with vendors selling everything from tee-shirts to menorahs to (many) hookahs. Despite the visible elements of modernity here and there, it really looks and feels like the place where Jesus walked — it feels ancient, and it looks like the set in a movie about Jesus. We wandered around in there for several hours, bought falafel from a stand, stopped in the church that (some say) stands on the place that Jesus was crucified, and ended up at the Western Wall.

The Western Wall (aka The Wailing Wall), is the last remaining part of the Temple Mount (Second Temple), and is considered to be one of the most important religious sites in the world. It is segregated into men’s and women’s sides, and all men are required to wear head covering to enter — so I had to wear one of the paper keppa provided at the entrance. The area near the wall is intense — Jews, mostly hasidic & orthodox, rocking back and forth and praying by the wall, some with their faces pressed up against the wall… the sound creates an almost constant drone of prayer. The experience of being amongst all that religious fervor is really amazing — I could feel it, the belief, or something… it was almost tangible, it gave me chills. I walked up and touched the wall, and it felt like one would expect a very old wall would feel, except with a strange vibration… like history, or religion, or perhaps years of infused significance. I was moved, and I left shaken.

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