Pilgrimage Day 4: we spent the day entirely in Bethlehem. While I definitely appreciated the sacred Christian sites that we visited, it was the moments of living into present day ministry that moved me the most. We spent the morning at St. Vincent Creche Orphanage for abandoned children, where we had a morning Eucharist before meeting the young children there (who were up to the age of six). We also spent some time at the Separation Wall that divides Israel from the West Bank. I returned to The Wall later in the afternoon with some fellow pilgrims to spend time at Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel (photo above). Returning to The Wall was not on the official pilgrimage itinerary; detours during pilgrimage are also a part of the journey.
I have a mixture of strong emotions and thoughts around what I saw today. I am grateful to our Dean Steve for his homily this morning: it both framed the day and served as a compass for me to navigate through the experience. What stood out to me most from the sermon was the call to 1) resist the temptation for judgement and 2) hold on to hope.
The epistolary poem below came to me after our group reflection (where I finally allowed some tears to fall), dinner, and a nap.
Hold on to Hope
3/8/2023 11:10 pm
I wait for you in wee hours of revelation, low with minutes fat on expectations. And your presence flows from worn courage still. In an amphitheater of cruelty, I struggle to abstain from the war of judgements. You remind me that my work is not to follow knights into battles of hatred endless. My work is in reconciling that which I do not understand; to build compassion in an oasis unknown.
You are my fearless guide on roads ripe with rose thorns, haunted by confessions from corporate soldiers. They whisper back to a conscience left long before they sharpened bayonets, reloaded bullets, and decorated grenades.
You give me a strength to smile when my heart drowns in sadness; my feet ache in defiance. You show me that knowing you is to touch the Darkness, smell the Fear, and feel God’s Love all around nonetheless. Zip up cobble stone fortresses to stand down occupied caves. There is abundance this night. Hope is invitation at dusk to let go. Let go of anger, let go of laments, lay down in surrender at Manger Square. No wall can separate you from the angels’ comfort that all shall be well. And even they weep for orphans left in the streets. Trauma upon trauma, nightmare upon dream. Hope is the blanket that holds us all.
You are the ground spring that quenches gaps under joy and kisses pain on memories too heavy to pull. You are the mountain path that living stones walk on through cold desert days. You are the promise that everyday saints profess in smiles. And you… are… the sunrise who caresses our collective awakening.
I hold on to you, Hope, on this scattered morning and in the broken glass of night. You bind my fragments together in a beloved harmony that sometimes is out of tune, but is a song to God’s purpose, nonetheless.
One thought on “Holy Land 2023 (Seyi)”
I agree 100%. Your best yet.
Am remembering our sharing circle last night. This articulates the tension: “No wall can separate you from the angels’ comfort that all shall be well. And even they weep for orphans left in the streets….Hope is the blanket that holds us all.”
Did you notice we both chose the same initial photo? And the prompt took us two different places. Everything belongs.
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