This was my last day in Israel and Palestine. As I sit in the airport my mind is whirring with thoughts of this incredible adventure. I cannot believe that it is already over. I have seen and experienced so much. It is going to take a long time to process and then integrate this experience into the plans for the program and, more importantly, into my life. It has been a true journey toward understanding.
Today started with a trip to the top of what is called the Temple Mount. This is the place where tradition holds that Abraham prepared to offer his only son, Isaac, to the Lord; this is the location of both Solomon's and Herod's temples; the people of Israel believed that it was this mount upon which the presence of the Lord dwelt in the Holy of Holies; this is the spot where we are told Jesus drove out the money changers; this where Muslims believe that Mohammad and his horse, Al Buraq, were taken into heaven. Many pilgrims from many faiths have journeyed to this very spot. They have offer sacrifices, knelt to pray, sang praises and prostrated themselves. Standing in this place, you can indeed feel the presence of all of those who have gone before you.
Today, two magnificent buildings stand upon this mount. They are both holy places for the people who call their God Allah. These mosques date from the 7th and 8th centuries AD. They are absolutely stunning in their beauty and their architectural form. The first pictures below are of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the second set are from the Dome of the Rock. We had an amazing opportunity to enter both of these holy sites. It was an incredible experience and one that not many people get to have. I truly feel richly blessed.
The day ended with a great conversation with a gentleman from Neve Shalom - Wahat Al-Salam - Oasis of Peace. This is an intentional community in between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Here, Muslims, Christians and Jews live together and work toward peace not only in their community and country but also throughout the world. This place is evidence that it can happen. Yes, this is a community that has decided to move away from some of the hustle and bustle of the big cities, but this community is committed to being a beacon of hope and promise in a world full of conflict.
As I prepare to leave, this thought is ringing in my head...
We must LISTEN in order to HEAR.
We must HEAR in order to UNDERSTAND.
We must UNDERSTAND in order to LIVE TOGETHER.
We must LIVE TOGETHER in order to MOVE TOWARD PEACE.
It is time. It is time to commit to one another. It is time to work together. It is time to be human together. It is time to be PEACE.
Shalom from the airport.