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Posts Tagged ‘answers from Spirit’

In Searcdh of...Jerusalem

image from www-josephinewall-co.uk

It’s taken a while but I’d like to explain why I use this image for each of my entries “In Search of”, The simple reason is that the title of the work is “Spirit Elements” and it seems fitting for my story. I hope you like it a much as I do.

Once on the coach at the Dead Sea Hotel we traveled through the Hebron Valley towards Bethlehem. After many calls and ‘agreements’ our guide had been given the all clear for those of us who wished to go into Bethlehem, to do so. It was explained to us that it would be our own decision and no responsibility would be held by the tour operators. Since Bethlehem was inside the West Bank, a Tour Guide from inside there had been arranged and he would look after us whilst we were there. There was still a set protocol to be followed to visit Bethlehem. At the time it seemed slightly odd, from the perspective of hindsight it was a trifle more ominous.

The tour bus driver was allowed to drive up to the West Bank access point, whilst the tour guide had to exit the bus a couple of blocks before the checkpoint.  The driver had been given instructions that he was not allowed to leave the bus under any circumstances, although we were not totally aware of the magnitude of that little statement.

Arriving at the checkpoint I noticed the high concrete wall around three sides of the ‘square’ and the shapes of armed soldiers along the top of the wall, all carrying machine guns! An ominous start. The access area looked, for all the world like a cattle grid, or the gates at the entrance to the Brisbane Exhibition grounds. Once off the bus the driver left immediately, and we were on our own. We moved towards our  entrance. There were swarthy looking characters watching our every move. It was increasingly tense as our every move was carefully watched.

At the other side we were met by the West Bank tour guide, Ibrahim. We later found out that the real tour guide was Ibrahim’s son, but since the recent conflict, the tourism trade had been badly affected and he had therefore decided to take the tour himself.  After the time we had spent in Israel it felt like a different world completely. The buildings were, for the most part, covered in steel grills and the windows or glass in the doors was papered over also.  Everything seemed dustier, the people less cheerful and much more aware of our presence. We were escorted to a restaurant for lunch and had little option but to order something. We were not leaving until we had eaten! We saw Hezekiah’s tunnel, the Church of the Nativity and spent some time being closely scrutinised in a large square in front of an official looking building.

The ‘tour guide’ seemed to disappear into the surroundings as we reached the square and we were left milling around wondering when he was coming back.  Finally, he strode into our midst from within a group of soldiers. We were hustled up the street quickly. The very unfriendly looks made for a tense atmosphere. At one of the unremarkable doorways we were ushered inside. It was a souvenir shop which appeared to sell religious knick knacks of a huge number. The women in the store had coffee, sweets and savouries which they pressed on us at every opportunity at no cost. We had been told that as soon as we were ready to leave we should ask the tour guide to radio ahead for the bus to be at the check point to pick us up. The driver was allowed ten minutes to be at the exit and collect us so timing was critical. However, despite being asked by more than half the group our tour guide was in no hurry to allow us to leave, in fact the door had been locked and bolted – for our protection! It soon became apparent that unless everyone bought something from the shop – which he owned – we weren’t going to leave any time soon.

After a hurried discussion we all bought a small trinket and the guide called for the Israeli bus. We made our way back to the gates under the watchful gaze of the locals and a soldier or two. I am rarely uncomfortable when out and about but it was with a very odd sensation between my shoulders that I made my way through the exit. The Israeli bus was a very welcome sight. We drove several blocks away and collected our Israeli guide, which is when we finally learned of the tension surrounding our visit to Bethlehem. If we had known I doubt that as many people would have gone.

From Bethlehem we drove to Jerusalem. It was such a strange transition, driving through lush countryside after the drab and desolate surroundings inside the West Bank. I am not making any criticism of the area, either the people of the place, yet I can say with all honesty that the only time on my trip I felt at all uncomfortable was whilst I was inside the West Bank.  The air of “something about to happen” was very real.

Jerusalem was yet again a completely diverse mix of modern and ‘ancient’. We saw the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives. Nothing was as I expected, probably from too many movies. We, that is Mel and I, had an exciting trip to Ben Yehuda mall to find a new suitcase for me. Pulling an empty suitcase over a paved or cobbled area was hilarious. We were so hungry we stopped for Schwarma in the mall. The looks we got were priceless and watching the flow of people as we sat there was enough to write fill a novel. We managed to find a nifty little store that was crammed with everything imaginable and I bought a few laugh a minute items for my children when I got home.

On the way to the hotel   we stopped at a little coffee shop. They were really nice letting me drag this large suitcase inside with us. We had the most delicious chocolate mousse filled with hot syrupy chocolate. It was so delicious I could have scrapped the plate clean!

The next day we set off for a tour of the old city. We walked from the Western Gate to the many churches and the ‘birthplace of Christ’. There was so much to see and not enough time. We stopped for a while at the Wailing Wall and walked the length of the Via Dolorosa, the “Way of the Cross”.  Stopping at a sidewalk café for drinks and something to eat seemed surreal and at the same time so ‘every day’ that I wondered if I was just an observer in a strange land.

After an exhausting day we went back to the hotel and, being the first two in the business centre, Mel and I hit the computers to write home and keep a running diary of events.

The next day was spent exploring further and a haunting visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial. It was impossible not to be moved by the enormity of all we saw.  Mere words and photos cannot really do our time in Jerusalem justice. It could easily fill a small book.

The next morning we packed up and the bus headed for the airport at Tel Aviv, the Ben Gurion airport for the next leg of our tour in Egypt. But first we had to get through customs!

All around us was so much history, it was impossible not to try to capture as much as possible so we could have our memories with us later.

It was a beautiful and challenging visit. The two sides to the same coin, but the differences were so great. After the tense and uncomfortable trip to Bethlehem, it was difficult not to make judgement calls….. rightly or wrongly, we were all glad we were in Israel. I felt I had been protected, and I also felt that ‘we all’ would be safe. It was good to have an angel on my shoulder.

I hope you have enjoyed this…. previous chapters are located throughout the archives. Please use “In Search of..Part “..” and you can catch up if you need to.

Next Week –  Airports and Cairo

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Falling

Softly in the darkness

Velvety wings

Wrapped around in darkness

Turning quietly

Downwards in darkness

Seeking

For answers

Heart beat

Blood drip

Pouring quietly in darkness

Twinkling faintly

Lights, so far in darkness

Barely seen

Music playing

Sounding loudly in darkness

Angels in darkness

Angels bringing light

Every song is Angels

Cradled softly

In feathery wings

Safe in light

Saved from darkness

Not alone, nor lonely

Angels if light

‘Here

There

Everywhere in the darkness

Pain,

Eased in the light

Heartache

image from indianapublicmedia.org

Soothed in the light

Angels of pure light

The answer…

Angels,

Just Angels

image from earthangels-angeliclightworkers.com

Have a beautiful weekend

Ciao,

Susan x

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