May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Rest and Pressed of Israel/Palestine

our hosts Leron and Itiel
Outside the home of Itiel and Leron
Their dog Koshi

New Community "Salon" Before and after
November 5—We went into the old city of Jerusalem.  Walking to the new gate the streets are filled with people dressed in black wide-brimmed hats and long black coats, along with tourists and a few Muslims.  
 It was Shabbat, so things were fairly mellow in the street, but intense at the West Wall.  I was asked not to take photos, and then not to write (I guess writing is work).  We went through the checkpoint and down into the area where Jews come to express their sorrow of so much lost here.  They can’t go into the area of where their temple was destroyed because they might accidently step on the place where it was most holy, so this wall is as close as they get. 
 (Emma Willard people—this is the original “wailing-wall”) I went to the women’s side where folks were leaning with faces buried on the wall crying and rocking, seated directly in front of it reading scripture and standing curious about the power this place has for the Jews.  Woman backed out of the area to leave.  We wanted to go to the temple mount, but it is Eid, and closed to non-Muslims. 
We decided to see if we could get above it for a photo and ended up on La Via Delarosa, where small parades of people were walking the last walk of Jesus, singing and carrying (smaller) crosses.  
this is where Jesus died

 After a bowl of soup at the Austrian Hostel to get out of the cold and rain, we ended up at the churches that enshrine where Jesus was nailed to the cross (there was a Greek Orthodox service going on there), 
This is where Mary anointed the body
where he was laid by Mary and covered with oil (fragrant water was poured on there and people gathered around the rock they placed above that site with foreheads on it-or placing special items on it –and I found a perfect ankle bracelet for my cousin and put it on the stone.), and where he was entombed. 
This is where they lay the body for burial
This ornate cave was controlled by a bearded man who ordered people in, and most comically (not to him) ordered people out, “What, are you going to sleep in there?  Get out before I call the police!  You! (he had a green laser pen) You, get out NOW!”  There was a very narrow passage and we had about 30 seconds to view all the bright and ornate things in there. 

Arabic alphabet
November 6—We walked to the Arab bus station to get across the Palestinian line to Bethlehem.  The van cost about $2.    
3 couch surfers--Eva in the middle
We made our way to see a fellow surfer whom we met in Crete—Eva—at a community center in the middle of town where she volunteers.  The place was practically deserted because of the Eid holiday.   

Lutheran Minister
She was at the Lutheran church next door, so we popped in to listen to the sermon.  After the service, Eva took us to her bright apartment for tea/coffee, then to the church that surrounds the place where Jesus was born.  

 There was a tour group there from the Ivory Coast that was intense.  They pushed and crowded the site—a woman who quickly kneeled in front of the small star that represented THE spot where the small deity was born twisted Les’s knee. 
One woman sat on the stairs and scooted down to make room for herself to go ahead.  I wondered if this is part of what I’ll need to negotiate when in Africa, or if this was a unique group to Ivory Coast, or to the excitement of being in this holy place.

This is where Jesus was born
Holy Manger

Israeli side of the wall.  See how clean?
Palestinian side of the wall

Eva bought us a yummy lunch before we headed toward the boarder wall.  It was amazing to see this tall cement wall (Is this what they envision when they talk about the wall between Mexico and the US?) with all the colorful images of hope, peace, resentment, oppression, etc., big towers and cameras.  The Israeli side of the wall is guarded and clean white. 
 We saw a Palestinian refugee camp that was crowded and built one on top of the other, and a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem that looked like tower apartments.   
We went through the checkpoint, which was a series of barred doors to pass, a baggage X-ray and guards checking passports.
I had questions about the Israeli viewpoint and asked Itiel about the conflict: the UN gave Israel a small portion of land.  The surrounding Muslim countries didn’t agree and started attacking Israel.  Israel fought back and pushed the boarders farther to make more space, and now are protecting what they have, and managing their interests by creeping a little further into the Palestinian areas.  This seems like an impossible thing to resolve, with all those displaced Palestinian people, and all the Jewish people who now have a home.  I do hope a resolution creates peace some day.
Kubbe Soup

November 7-8—Before going to our new hosts, I got to trace the stencil for the wall they wanted to paint over, and we went for kubbe (meat wrapped in semolina flour dumpling) soup at the market and my new drive to buy ripe mangos.  Our new hosts, Adi and Gal, welcomed us into their lovely apartment. 
Adi and Gal
Their dog Tidi made us feel right at home.  We went out to look for food and found a nice shakshuka shack, as everything else was pretty pricy.  

Next we spent too much time deciding what to do, and ended up getting out and riding the 21 bus all the way around its route.   
With 1/2 a tahini cookie in us, we ended up in the old city, looking at Roman columns way under the street level and I had a revelation about how that happens.  In the US, everything that is under ground was from the dinosaurs or we intentionally buried them.  We have dirt on top.  Here, instead of a city sinking, or eons of dust filling a place, I can now imagine that earthquakes and wars leveled big walls and homes; then new people would build upon this.  No one wanted to dig back down to ground level!  Ah!  Today the splendid big moon rose over one of the big hills. Ah!   

 Later, a contact improvisation teacher (Daria) picked me up and I was able to take class.  It was a fantastic opportunity to spread out on the floor for a change, and she instructed us in lots of ways of using our head on the floor, to lead and follow movement and connect with others.  It felt pretty great!

November 9—Adi has been studying a dance form called Eurythmy.  She asked her teacher if I could come witness, so this morning I walked through back roads to the place, got to the place that looked like a communal eating scene, and was introduced to Talia.  The class was beautiful, with about 9 dancers and a live pianist (always).  They stood in a circle and silently lifted their arms together, and in unison started this complicated serpentine pattern that reached out and yielded inwardly.  They worked on the specifics of a major and minor chord.  Stepping carefully, breathing and floating and reaching, but very, very specifically in space and energy.  I was able to join this part.  The end of the class had them dancing together like they were in a small wind tunnel, rolling around their axes, reaching out into the world and descending into their own souls, leading out with curiosity and awe, back with retrospective humility.  It reminded me of a form that Isadora Duncan may have loved.  Maybe she danced this!  Later we four (Adi and Gal) went out for a really nice meal and a so-so movie.  The movie was a series of Flamenco artists performing on stage.  I enjoyed the relationship I made with the Eurythmy class.  Those pieces that were the most successful were dynamically expressive and technically specific.
November 10—brought us to the Israel Museum where we learned about the Dead Sea scrolls.  We got to see the scrolls and copies of scrolls that they found recently in a cave by the dead sea.  There was a massive miniature model of Jerusalem as it was when Jesus was alive.  There was the second temple on the mount, Herod’s old and new palaces, Calvary, the West Wall as it was then, and all the homes and walls of the city.  

At the Israel museum is also a very impressive sculpture park donated by Billy Rose.  We left Jerusalem, with a long wait on the bus for a vehicle to move out of the way, joining the pushing crowd that is trying to get their bodies and bags checked for weapons getting into the mall with the bus terminal, missing the bus to Tel Aviv with a line too long, watching the 18 bus pull away as we got to the platform, but eventually finding our wonderful host, Ronen, at home just blocks from our first home with Amatai.  Out to our favorite restaurant—a falafel joint with a name that refers to a “Magician.”
November 11—I met Pam, a friend of Laurie from New York State who has spent QUITE a bit of time here, at a coffee place at a mall in a suburb.  She is a body worker (Traegger  practitioner) and helped reinforce solutions to make my ankle work better: fatter feet spreading out on the ground, turning out a little more to gain more access to the floor, working out the tension in the bottom of the foot and making a support stirrup with my hands to encourage the foot to expand.  After some hands on work, time flew and off she went.  I didn’t have enough money to cover her fee, so I went back to the mall to get money and caught her husband just as he was leaving.  Whew—I would have been carrying that burden around for a while.  Later, Les and I watched the sunset at the beach as the parachute boarders darted across the water doing tricks in the air.
Ronen, Avital and Tom picked me up (Les is nursing a cold) and we drove two hours south past the Gaza Strip (cease fire) through Be’er Sheva to an area where the first prime minister of Israel is buried (NICE view!).  We arrived about 11:30 (Wished in the car at 11:11 on 11/11/11 for a way for humans to find peace and prosperity without diminishing the earth’s resources.  Is it possible?) and met Sara and Kobi and their Wimaraner Spike.  
Sara and Kobi
 I was surprised to see how many people were there to hike at night.  Apparently it’s a popular thing to do during a full moon—and maybe because it was a weekend and Shabbat that there were so many people out and about.  The trail dove down into serpentine canyons, the monochromatic scene was very bright with no clouds and bright moon, and the silence was that yummy sensation that I crave from time to time.  Tom had a laser that drove Spike to run her legs off.  She chased it WAY forward then screamed past us as she followed it back along the trail, up the hills and around and around.  Dog heaven.  
 Then we built a fire and had tea while Ronen and Avital ran back to get the cars.  Then we made shakshuka!  Les’s favorite meal!  Hot oil—garlic and 2 onions—5-7 tomatoes—salt/pepper and let boil—crack eggs on top.  Sara made salad, Kobi cooked eggplant on coals, I pulled out some oil and dipping herbs and challah.  Spike chased flying sparks.  We finished, said our byes and rolled in about 7:30AM.  Sweet sleep.

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