What an experience visiting Israel! We spent the whole day in Jerusalem visiting many very meaningful places, but in this post I want to focus on something small that struck me in a particular way.
The driver dropped us off close to the Western wall and after a quick security check we entered the square where we could see many Jews in prayer in front of what is also called the Wailing Wall.
It is a centuries-old tradition to place notes in the Wall. While it’s a fascinating to learn about how this tradition came about, I will not go into that in this occasion.
It just so happened that a good friend of mine from Vancouver asked me to write his name on a piece of paper and to put it in one of the cracks in the wall. He also made me promise not to forget.
So this morning I had my little note in my pocket and I was waiting for the opportune moment to fulfill my promise. After our guide had explained some historical facts, and after I had taken some pictures I figured that the right time had come.
So I take the note out of my pocket and go towards the Wall to put it in one of the cracks. In that very moment a man praying there comes to me, takes me by the arm and urges me to come with him. Together we go further down the wall where, thanks to excavations, you can see the foundations.
He indicates a spot next to an enormous stone and tells me to put the note there. While I slowly follow his indications he puts his hand on my head and he starts praying aloud calling upon me a blessing for my intention on the note, for my family, my friends etc. We stand like this for about a minute.
Only when I pull my hand back from the wall he stops, gives me a broad smile and walks away, leaving me with an odd sense of wonder, peace and surprise.
He taught me with his gesture that in life it’s important to focus on what we have in common and not so much on what divides and today I felt we were united in prayer to the same God.
This experience I carried with me for the rest of the day, and what a day it was! We visited all the stations of the Via Dolorosa. I prayed and touched the rock where Jesus was crucified in the Holy Church of the Sepulcher and we concluded the day with a spectacular and informative visit to the City of David, just outside the walls of Jerusalem.
Our guide said: “visiting Israel makes the Bible come alive.”, and today I understood how true that is!