I was recently asked to submit a chapter to a book by Mark Miller. The book is about faith. My faith, the Amish faith, faith.
Prior to leaving for Israel, I had completed the chapter. Now, having been to Israel, I have been hit by such a brainstorm about Faith (and yes, I capitalized it on purpose), that I will be re-writing Chapter 11 of Mark Miller’s One!
This morning, we went to the Western Wall to attend a bar mitzvah, friends of my husband who happen to be here celebrating their son’s entry to manhood. After going through security, I covered my shoulders with a pashima and hurried down to the divider which separates the spectators from those who wish to spend time at the Wall.
Here is my initial impression of Israel…
It’s HOT. And I don’t mean heat-wave-hot…I mean energy draining, fluid evaporating, unbelievably hot. Now, add to the mix standing there with a pashima and I would not be surprised to learn that I lost another 5 lbs. (which doesn’t really bother me because I would like nothing more than to come home thinner than I was when I graduated college!). After waiting for a while, I left the divider and wandered down to the women’s section. The sun was not too high in the sky yet and it was rising behind the Wall so there was a lovely shadow cast upon the plaza beneath the Wall. For a long time, I stood there and watched the women.
Some placed their heads against the wall. Others rocked back and forth in prayer. Still more struggled to just lift a hand in order to place it ever so gently against the smooth face of the rock wall.
Finally, I saw an older woman who waited patiently for her turn. She was small in frame with her head covered in a scarf. As she approached the wall, she leaned forward and, ever so gently, touched her lips against the smooth rock before whispering silently into the crevices.
What she spoke was something known only to her and God. But it brought tears to my eyes.
It was mesmerizing to watch the amount of faith and love and belief that flowed from these women.
They waited in the heat of the day (but luckily in the shade for now) to find a tiny crevice to shove their folded pieces of white paper. Their prayers were scribbled on those papers and, when I finally had my turn to place my own trembling hand on the wall, my eyes couldn’t help but stare at the multitude of papers that stared back at me.
Words like “remember…” and “love” and “save her” and “guide me” popped off at me. Other words were in foreign languages so I couldn’t decipher their meaning. But it didn’t matter. I understood.
This wall is the only remnant of the Temple where Jesus preached. Perhaps he had walked through the temple and ran his hands on the very stones that I touched. Certainly he was in the presence of the place where I stood. Is it any wonder that I had tears in my eyes as I walked away slowly and backwards so that my back was not to the Wall? Is there any doubt that something amazing happened in this place…2000 years ago? How has it survived? How has it traveled from this place, so far away from my own personal world, to the center of Lancaster County, PA? Truly the hand of God has guided the Word to survive the years, the battles, and the distance…
It is an awe-inspiring place to be…from a historical and a religious perspective. There’s an awful lot to think about when you are here in this mystifying country. I can only imagine what tomorrow will bring as we explore the place where Pilate condemned Jesus, the Twelve Stations of the Cross and the place where Jesus was crucified. I’m sure it will be a day of more heightened emotions and tears.