Olive Trees & Reconciliation: Day Seven, March 31, 2012
From every corner of the Romanesque Catholic church in the Arab village of Abu Gosh we hear the harmony and contradictions of Israel. It is not the song we often hear in the news, which tells us that this is a land of chaos and I am reminded the solution is in the details. The Benedictine Monk Olivier shares his voice which resounds in the voices of some of the Jews, Muslims and Christians that pass each other on the way. From the top of Mount Olives we descend to the Garden of Gethsemane with 2000 year old olive trees whose trunks are braided with history and we are reminded of the many layers of this city. After a few minutes of the midday mass, we began the ascent to the old city entering through the Lion’s Gate guarded by two Israeli soldiers who are more than willing to take a moment to smile and laugh with us. We begin the Stations of the Cross, the Way of Christ, and we hear the names of Veronica and Simon mixed with the accents of many different countries and dialects. This mass of humanity funnels to climb the hill of Golgotha and the lines of Italians, Asians, Ethiopians and Americans braid into one. We are released into the marketplace, encouraging one another in our shopping adventures. As we walk through the narrow corridors we hear our friends bargaining for the best deals they can find. We emerge from the old city wearing or carrying small goods, mementos, and photographs from the past and present.
We share the success of our spoils as we return to break bread at the hotel. But wait there’s more to come…..We head back to Jerusalem to the Yitzak Rabin Center for a discussion on the state of Israel, and we are left with the recognition that much like the tightness of finely woven braid peace and reconciliation require patience, hard work, cooperation.
~Gail Desler and Tosha Tillotson