Whoa, it’s been a while!
The reason for the lack of a post is obvious, since I’ve been away for a bit. Fortunately I don’t have to recall everything that I did while I was gone since the mandatory “Impressions” we had to write took care of that. In any case, I’ll share some final thoughts about the experience and some stuff I didn’t quite write in my “impressions”.
1. The angry shopkeeper – This is something that happened to me and my friend while we were shopping in Jerusalem. We went into a store and the owner began to try to sell us this cloth with jingling things on the end (that’s the best way I can describe it). Anyway, we had been told earlier that Israel had a bargaining culture and this was our first time out shopping so I decided to try and bargain. Long story short, the bargaining did not go well and the man kicked us out of his store while calling us stupid. I laugh as I write this because it was pretty funny but it was also a little shocking since that doesn’t usually happen to me.
2. Israeli Security – On the way into the country, we found out just how tight security was. My group of three was randomly stopped and searched and then we were escorted to the gate. We weren’t allowed to leave the security guards’ sight and we had to ask to do basic things like throw away gum or open our carry-ons. We also later found out that they actually opened our bags and went through them. It was…odd, to say the least.
3. The Heart of the World – This is the point that this post is named after and rightfully so. On my first full day in Israel, our class went on a trip to see the Wailing Wall tunnels at night (I think I mentioned the Wailing Wall or Western Wall in another post). That was where I was able to understand the construction of the Temple Mount and see the entire wall up close. The wall itself is pretty cool and has some amazing aspects with respect to its engineering. But that’s not really what I want to talk about. While we were on the tour of the wall, our tour guide showed us lots of cool things and was nice enough to strike up conversation. On the way to the exit, I was standing directly behind her so I began to ask her some questions. I asked why she came to Jerusalem and how long she’d been there. I asked if she had any personal connection with the city and how it differed from other places she’d been. I won’t go through all the answers she gave me but I will highlight one, because it stuck with me throughout the trip. She said that there was something about the city that made it great. She called it “The Heart of the World”.
I don’t know if this is a reference to something else since I”m not nearly as well-versed in pop culture (or any culture) as I used to be, but I thought that was fascinating. The heart of the world. What could that mean? After traveling around Jerusalem and the rest of Israel, I found that that was really true. Jerusalem is, like, the most important place in the world. There isn’t really any other way to put it. In the past, many people have tried to claim it and even now people fight over it. For some reason, people can see and feel the relevance of this one city.
I could go into why that seems to be the case but I don’t think I have the brainpower to do that topic justice. Instead I’ll just say that it’s a place everyone should go because I think being there can reveal something different to everyone. I went to Jerusalem to have a better understanding of the scriptures and to go to the places that Jesus went and both of those things happened but not in the way I expected. That was the best part of being there. Nothing met my expectations at first but by the end everything exceeded them.
Excuse the cliche (I can’t help but get a little sappy this late). Either way, that’s all I’ll say about my trip to Israel. I could devote my next 100 posts to things I saw and learned but even then I don’t think I’d do the trip justice. So instead of continually trying to write something increasingly more profound than the last thing I wrote, I’ll leave it here. It may come up again in passing but I likely won’t devote too much time to it. I learned a lot in Israel and one of the things I learned was forward motion. The world around you doesn’t stop changing. The Jerusalem I saw was almost nothing like the Jerusalem of Jesus’ day. In the same way, I don’t want to keep my feet planted in this trip and forget that other important things are happening around me. Though many people tried, they couldn’t freeze Jerusalem in any one time. The heart kept beating, time kept moving, and the world kept going.
So, goodbye Israel! Goodbye Jerusalem! You’ll be sorely missed but I’m sure I’ll see you again some day ;).