Wednesday, February 18, 2015
"My prayer is a joke", Jack thought. "I can't even fit it in here with the others, it's falling out already. This whole thing is s train wreck!"
The strict Jewish men around him rocked back and forth, back and forth, facing the wall, praying softly and then reading from their Bibles - from the Law. Jack thought it was both silly, and poetic. He admired the determination and dedication of these men in black - but couldn't understand the process or the purpose. He liked the idea that they were focused - focused on God - who could be critical of that?
The wind blew and Jack watched his folded prayer blow to the ground. He picked it up and pushed it into a different crack in the wall - tightly - jamming it in with force and anger.
A minute passed, the sun felt warm. Jack closed his eyes, lifted his face to the sun.
It fell again. A light breeze passed and Jack could hear a voice saying - "leave it Jack - I've seen it - I read it - I answered it, and you're good to go!"
"Thanks Lord - for keeping it real - you're awesome, as usual." Jack hurried back to the waiting bus.
"Ali" looked on, nobly, as camels do, and he was quiet as a mouse. Ali was a caricature of himself, Jack thought, and he hadn't changed at all since Jack saw him last - 10 years ago, on this hill, looking over the Old City of Jerusalem. "Come-on man, just 10 sheckel's - I lose money at that price - just 10 - ok!?" The Arab vendor draped the scarf over Jack's head and shoulders. "You look real good man!" "OK then, but take my picture with the city in the background - get the dome in too", said Jack.
Jack could hear the tour guide behind him - Hilek - explaining to the group the details of the valley that lay between this hill and the city walls of Jerusalem. The multiple burial sites, Muslim, Jews and Christians - all staking their claim on sacred ground.
Hilek was a bit too 'politically correct', Jack thought, and chuckled to himself. They don't all win, in the end, when the Messiah passes through here, He won't care much about the graves - He won't even notice the graves when he enters the city gate. Everyone, everywhere, will bow to Jesus - but for those who didn't believe, before he arrived, it will be too late.
Ali knows it - he's heard it all, from every angle, for years, in every language, as he looks over the City, year-after-year-after-year. "The camel surly knows the truth", Jack thought. Ali's ancestors carried those Kings, with all those gifts - to see the baby - just north of here in a small town. So it's in his blood - passed from generation to generation.
"The camel knows", Jack smiled.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
But this evening, Jack was in Jaffa, watching the sunset -with his girls. Keeping a low-profile wasn't easy for Jack with his girls nearby, always drawing a stare and a whisper from the 'men' on the streets. Even other women were mesmerized by the three. One was enough to catch the wondering eye's of locals and tourists. But with the three of them together, there was no hope.
It started getting dark, as they all walked north toward the city. There, up ahead - "that's it", he said - "let's warm up, get a drink". Jack ushered his girls into 'Gordo's', a beachfront café. As if he were protecting special agents, he escorted his own 'Charlie's Angels" into the café and commanded a table in the front, with a view of the ocean, the beach, the rising moon over Tel Aviv.
"Happy Sylvester!", a waitress shouted from behind the bar. Puzzled, not knowing what she meant, Jack ignored her and thought about the day, and his girls, and Israel.
Finally, Jack relaxed. It had ended. It was over, the day was coming to an end. This year was over. "New beginnings", Jack said softly, to himself, as the girls talked freely and giggled.
It was New Years Eve. Everything Jack needed, everything he wanted, was sitting at this table, in this room, on this beach, in Tel Aviv.