thoughts: western wall

photo 1

It is nothing like I imagined it.  After 24 hours of air travel, my attention span is limited.  This, however, is much more captivating than debriefings and orientations.  When I first see it, I think I might be mistaken.  In my mind, it was a colossal structure.  I’m taken aback by its normal size.  Our group of North American Jews wearily sits on a balcony a short distance from the wall.  As our guide describes our surroundings, the Muslim call to prayer echoes across Old Jerusalem.  In this small space there are so many beliefs, all competing for prime real estate.  Our guide ushers us through security and then sets us loose with a strict time limit.  I glance at my phone and make a fuzzy mental note.

The wall is divided.  Men on one side, and women on a noticeably smaller side.  As I enter my side, other women exit walking backwards.  It is crowded. Rows of white plastic chairs are scattered in front of the wall and clash with the ancient stone. Women sit with small children and prayer books.  Navigating through this sea of lawn furniture is not how I expected to approach the wall. I
squeeze my way through, and plastic arm rests catch on my long skirt.

Everyone is dressed modestly. The hush of words whispered and mumbled fills the space. When I finally find myself close to the wall I wait patiently to find a space. I haven’t yet learned that no one waits patiently here for anything. But aggression seems inappropriate at this holy site. So I stand and observe. It’s dark outside, but the lights overhead illuminate the space like a sports stadium.

Young girls stand flush with the wall, prayer books pressed so close to their faces that their voices are barely audible. Women approach and place a hand on the wall. Most bury their faces in the wall. Some sob. Some rock forward and back. I usually look away quickly, feeling as though I’m watching something that should be private. One woman stands right next to me and manages to force her hand upon the wall immediately. I’m jealous of her technique. She
pulls out her iPhone and opens Google. I’m confused, and I glance at another part of the wall. When I look back I see her reading aloud from her iPhone. She Googled a prayer.

I start to feel unlucky in my spot, so I walk along the wall to a slightly less crowded area. I stand and stare at the cracks in the wall, trying to figure out where I’ll put my note. Even at the Western Wall I plan.  I repeat what I wrote on my note in my head and look at the folded notes forced into 2000 year old stone.

photo 2

When a woman in front of me begins to leave, I step forward quickly.  After watching so many other people, I feel a little self conscious about what I should do.  I place my hand on an empty space on the wall.  I don’t know what to expect, but I feel something: energy.  As though the moment my hand touched the wall, my feet were pulled into the ground.  I am rooted, grounded.  I keep my hand in place, scared to lose my spot, and look for the crevice I’d found for my note.  I try to slide it in, but it won’t stay.  So much for planning.  I find another spot.  It’s a little too big, but my words will stay here for now.

I’m hesitant to leave.  I remember our time limit and notice that many people from my group are already gone.  I take my hand off the wall and stay for just another moment.  As soon as I back away my former space is quickly absorbed by another occupant.  Walking backwards through the chairs challenges my limited coordination.  I wonder how the other women here, many also holding the hand of a child, do it so effortlessly.  I must look ridiculous.

When I am far enough away, I turn around.  But it doesn’t feel right.  I want to go back.  To make sure it was real.  Only a day ago I boarded a plane at LAX, and today I put a note in the Western Wall.  People say that when you visit Israel, you go home on both legs of the journey.  In only a matter of hours, I begin to understand why.

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quote: pooh on life

“life is miserable,” moaned eeyore.

but pooh just laughed.

“oh eeyore!  it’s your mind that’s miserable.  life is just life.”

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(a belated) happy merry everything!

hope your holidays have been filled with joy, light, and love!

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thoughts: grateful

today I got some news that I didn’t like.  so I fought it and whined about it and rebelled against it.  and then I was reminded that it’s easy to accept the things we want as blessings.  the things we want, when they happen, we say they’re meant to be.  but it’s harder to say that the things we don’t want are also meant to be.  sometimes what feels right doesn’t happen in order to leave space for something better.  so I’ll revel and dance in that space.  instead of throwing a tantrum in it.

plus, it’s tough to receive anything new if you’re not grateful for what already is.

today I am grateful for long, slow walks and time to observe the world.

“and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

-from max ehrmann’s desiderata

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photo: be back soon

20111015-161446.jpg

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nostalgia: spin the wheel

I’m 16, and it is winter in Minnesota.  It’s warm inside, insulated from the biting cold outside these walls.  I’m in my bedroom, glancing over words in a textbook.  Despite the fact that no one is watching, I want to look like I’m doing something.  My eyes glaze over and then turn back to the clock.  It’s almost 6:30.  I grab a few folders, turn off the light, and run down the stairs in the dark.  It’s been dark since 4:30, but no one has turned on the hall lights yet.

When I reach the bottom, the kitchen glows against the blackness outside.  Only slight glimmers of snow are visible through the large windows.  My mom offers a smile as she moves with hurried grace amongst the burners and ovens.  I spread my homework out on the kitchen table.  I know she’ll ask me to set the table soon, but I relish every minute of having the full space to myself.  I page through folders until I find my most mindless assignment.  Because I’m not really sitting here to do my homework.  I’m sitting here to watch Wheel of Fortune.

Mom watches the final minutes of the local news while she cooks, only stealing quick glances at the TV.  My ears perk up when I hear the news anchors sign off.  I take this moment to turn up the volume a couple notches.  Suddenly the exaggerated announcer’s voice and the game show theme song play against the comforting smell of dinner.  Food always smells better this time of year.  The still, dead winter is a blank canvas for its aroma.

The first contestant spins the wheel.  My eyes are glued to the TV.  I don’t have glasses yet, so I squint slightly.  My mom stands at the stove, stirring vegetables in a pan.  She ducks her head slightly to gaze under the pot rack and at the TV.  More spins follow.  The wheel clicks to a halt each time.  Another spin, another letter.  My mom’s lips move slightly, whispering guesses as she deciphers the puzzle.  Before a quarter of the letters are revealed, she has the answer.  She blurts it out with excitement.  I smile and tell her she should be on the show.  She lifts her head and laughs.  I turn my head back to my homework, and I smile, too.  This is my favorite time of night.

Lately I’ve found myself watching Wheel of Fortune while I make dinner.  It’s on at 7:30 here instead of 6:30.  The board with real moving tiles has been replaced by a computer touch screen.  Pat and Vanna’s lack of aging is even more magical.  The sun is shining, it’s warm outside, and the food smells different.  But the feeling is the same.

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video: no more GMOs

from http://gmofilm.com/ :

(click link for larger video)

“THE GMO FILM PROJECT tells the story of a father’s discovery of GMOs through the symbolic act of poor Haitian farmers burning seeds in defiance of Monsanto’s gift of 475 tons of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to Haiti shortly after the devastating earthquake of January 2010. After a journey to Haiti to learn why hungry farmers would burn seeds, the real awakening of what has happened to our food in the US, what we are feeding our families, and what is at stake for the global food supply unfolds in a trip across the United States and other countries in search of answers. Are we at a tipping point? Is it time to take back our food? The encroaching darkness of unknown health and environmental risks, seed take over, chemical toxins, and food monopoly meets with the light of a growing resistance of organic farmers, concerned citizens, and a burgeoning movement to take back what we have lost.

Today in the United States, by the simple act of feeding ourselves, we unwittingly participate in the largest experiment ever conducted on human beings. Massive agro-chemical companies like Monsanto (Agent Orange) and Dow (Napalm) are feeding us genetically-modified food, GMOs, that have never been fully tested and aren’t labeled. This small handful of corporations is tightening their grip on the world’s food supply—buying, modifying, and patenting seeds to ensure total control over everything we eat. We still have time to heal the planet, feed the world, and live sustainably. But we have to start now!”

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