Walking the Walk

Taking Steps on the Path to Compassionate Living

Firmly Planted in Trust

I waited in line at Passport Control, looking towards the booth where I’d soon meet the holder of my fate (at least for the immediate future).  As I waited, at first not knowing who’d I’d encounter, making note of how long people stood at the window, I started wishing him/her a welcoming heart. Then I changed the internal mantra to one wishing us, all of us there, waiting or working, love in our hearts for all people. When I got close enough, I saw that I’d be meeting a woman. She was moving people through the line pretty quickly, much to my delight. In the line next to us, a man got pulled out of line. I didn’t envy him. I wondered why.  On the flight to Tel Aviv, he had caused the flight attendants some difficulties because he didn’t do what they asked him repeatedly to do (before the flight took off, it was to sit in his seat). I wondered what had happened at Passport Control.

When it was my turn to approach the window, I greeted the young woman as I handed her my passport. Honestly, I don’t remember if she replied to me. I stood looking at her, waiting for questions, while she looked at things (my passport and a computer screen, I assume) below my face. She didn’t ever look up and handed me my passport and my 3-month tourist visa. Relief.

I had left Louisville only about 15 hours before.  My first flight left a little late, which concerned me since the layover period if we'd left on time was only an hour and 20 minutes to begin with. However, before the flight, the United gate attendant called me to the desk and asked if it was ok for her to move my seat to 1A, so I could get off the plane and get to my next flight quickly. I assured her that the move was fine with me. If I had missed the flight, she had also booked a seat for me for the next flight. I made the flight to Tel Aviv easily. 

As I’ve watched the violence and restrictions intensify in Jerusalem and especially in Hebron, I have also been intensely aware of the love, support, and what I can only describe as protection being generously bestowed upon me in every way possible: placed gently on my shoulders in the form of the 2 prayer shawls I was gifted; put in my hands as notes, a book, a Papa Smurf (I’ll leave you to imagine that story); permeating my body in the form of hands touching me in blessing and in Reiki (which really is another form of blessing), arms hugging me, shared meals nourishing me; spoken to my heart in words and promised prayers; and all of this on top of financial support that will not only fund my time here, but will also support my companions. Even with all of these signs assuring my well-being, I’ve had moments of fear and anxiety as I’ve prepared. I’m getting better at letting them go and planting my feet firmly in trust.

Today when I went to sing at St. Anne’s Church, I wanted to feel the ground of this place that is so special to me, where I have sung my soul, and cried it out, and let the beauty of other voices mend its pain. Barefoot, I felt the cool stone energize me as I sang my songs for peace. Firmly planted.  

Later I went to the Western Wall with two prayer boxes full of the hopes, dreams, grief, supplications, and gratitude of friends, family, and strangers. I found “my” spot- a large and deep hole that could contain all I would put there. One by one I prayed the prayers and placed them into the wall. I recognized the handwriting on some; some prayers were written for me; many prayers brought tears to my eyes.

As I stood there, attentive to the prayers entrusted to me, I was vaguely aware of the Asian tourists who were taking what appeared to be glamour shots next to me (I only guess this because this is what I observed as I walked up to the wall); I think I may have been the subject of some pictures, as were, maybe, the prayers I held and prayed. I was vaguely aware of the women to my left- one praying out loud, another sobbing against the wall. I was vaguely aware of the pigeons cooing above me, who first pooped on me (or actually on the shawl covering my head) and then dropped a feather for me.

When I felt the poop (I wasn’t certain until after I left the wall that that it was poop that hit me), it made me smile - shit happens, even at the Western Wall in Jerusalem; that “gift” didn’t diminish the blessing, the sacred trust of praying the prayers of others. I often find myself more cognizant of the good in my life when something goes wrong. This was only a very minor blip and still brought that awareness.

When the feather dropped into my prayer box, I wondered if, though it seemingly came from pigeons, it might actually be an angel feather; I’d been reading of angels earlier in the day. I thought of an Emily Dickenson poem: "'Hope' is the thing with feathers- That perches in the soul- And sings the tune without the words- And never stops- at all-" A friend had spray-painted the first line of the poem on the 25-foot wall that slices Bethlehem. Though physically she is in Japan now, I knew that she was standing with me then. I knew the same was true of all who gave me their heart intentions. In trust.

Walking to the guesthouse, I saw a shopkeeper friend who invited me for tea; I will visit with him tomorrow. I visited a friend, who is also the mother of friends here and at home; we drank tea together and talked about what’s been going on. She invited me to join the whole family for lunch one weekend. I look forward to it.  

I cannot imagine what I have done to deserve this abundance. Then I remember that the Love that surrounds us is not about deserving; it is offered as a free gift. I will do my best to use this gift wisely and widely. I feel certain that the gifts of love, support, and protection are desperately needed in Hebron, where I go tomorrow; that must be why I’ve been filled to overflowing these last weeks, days, hours.

I end this day in gratitude, thankful for all that you, my friends and family, have given me. My heart is filled. My body is relaxed. My soul is firmly planted in trust, knowing that I am called to share the abundance and feeling so honored to be called this way.


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