Marketplaces…. as windows to lives lived by Kitty Donnelly

As 
outsiders 
or 
sojourners 
in 
the 
Holy Land,
 we
 search 
for
 glimpses 
of 
those 
who 
live
 there.

 The 
markets
 are
 a 
window 
into all 
the 
foods 
and 
other 
things 
necessary 
to 
daily 
life.

 Walking 

to 

and 
inside 
the 
Old City 
offers 
a 
vision 
of 
all 
the 
incense,
 foods, 
fruit

 mounded 
by 
juice 
stands, 
ankle 
length 
modest 
Muslim women’s 
clothing 
contrasts 
with 
skimpy 
glittery 
attire 
sold along 
the 
way
 
kitchen 
supplies,
 places 
for gathering 
or 
eating 
or 
relaxing…..all 
spread 
along 
the 
narrow 
way

.Damascus Gate

Just 
outside 
and 
inside 
the 
Damascus
 Gate, 
small 
vendors 
spread 
goods 
to 
sell 
on 
the 
pavement. 

Old 
women 
from 
the 
country 
set out 
mounds 
of 
fresh 
greens ,
vegetables
 and
fruit.

Fruit baskets

One 
young
 woman 
has 
nothing 
bu t
a
small 
mound 
of fresh 
figs 
to 
sell, 
suggesting 
her 
limited 
resources 
and 
neediness.

 Amazingly 
we 
see 
almost 
no 
beggars, except 
one 
older 
woman.

The Via
 Dolorosa 
is 
a 
path 
where 
Christians 
meditate 
on 
Jesus’
 suffering 
in 
his 
last 
days, 
but 
it 
is 
also teems 
with 
life.

 Sellers 
of 
everything 
from
 pottery
 and 

antiques 
to 
souvenirs
 that 
range 
from 
crass 
to inspiring, 
with blocks 
of 
halva 
near
 open 
bins 
of
 spices 
and 
the 
butcher’s 
meat 
hangs 
waiting 
for 
the
next 
customer.

 And 
somehow
 this 
mix 
seems 
right, 
religion 
belongs 
in 
the 
market 
of 
our 
daily 
lives, 
not set 
aside 
as 
a 
once 
a 
week 
or 
once 
a 
holiday experience 
that 
does 
not 
touch 
our 
everyday
 lives.

Old City market stalls.

Visitors 
now 
enter 
the 
Temple 
Mount 
to 
see 
the 
Dome 
of 
the 
Rock 
and
 Al 
Aqsa 
mosque 
from
 the crowded
 open 
Western 
Wall 
plaza. 

But 
they 
often 
exit 
through 
the 
domed 
historic 
cotton 
market 
hall, with 
massive 
green 
Ottoman 
doors 

opening 
on
 a 
long
 vista 
over 
the 
stalls 
and 
Middle 
Easter n
coffee stands. 

Starbucks 
does 
not 
have 
a
 foothold 
here. In 
West 
Jerusalem 
the 
afternoon 
before 
Shabbat 
begins, 
the 
Yehuda 
Mahane 
covered 
market 

corridor teems 
with 
men 
and 
women
 rushing 
to 
take 
home 
the 
foods 
and 
goods 
needed 
for their 
religious 
day
 of rest.

 Here 
the
 stalls 
display 
fruits,
 vegetables, 
eggs,
 spices,
 halvah 
too,
and 
arrays 
of 
kippe 
or
 yarmulkot in 
a 
range
 of 
colors 
and
 patterns 
that 
captivate 
the
 eye.

 The 
crush 
of 
crowd s
flows 

efficiently
 and amazingly 
our 
group
emerges 
at 
the
 other 
end 
of
 the 
long 
hall

 without 
losing 
a
 single 
person.kippas.

On 
our 
day 
trip 
to 
Hebron, 
after 
visiting 
the 
tomb 
of 
Abraham,
 we
 walk 
the 
old
 central
 market 
that wends 
its
 way 
below
 high 
buildings.

 Above 
our 
heads 
at 
times 
i s
a 
wire 
mesh 
barrier 
installed 
to 
protect those 
walking 
below 
from 
trash
 and
 objects 
thrown 
down 
from
 the 
buildings
 occupied 
by 
Jewish 
settlers
who 
have 
been 
given 
residence 
in 
the 
heart 
of 
the 
old 
city.

 On 
our 
visit 
we 
do 
not 
see 
anything 
being thrown 
down,
 but
 learn 
from 
members of the 
Christian Peacemaker
 Team (who 
bear 
witness 
here) 
that 
refuse 
and even 
liquid 
bleach 
have
 been
 poured 
on 
those 
in 
the 
market 
below. 

The 
market 
sellers 
are 
very 
eager 
to sell,
 but 
the 
crowds
 are
 thin.

 The 
tense 
situation 
in
 Hebron 
between 
settlers 
and 
the
 Palestinian residents 
of 
this 
large 
city 
hovers 
over 
the 
market.

 We 
see 
a
 donut
 maker 
squirt 
dough 
between 
his fingers 
into 
boiling 
oil, 
an
 old 
cobbler 
at 
work, 
pita 
emerging 
from
 a
 baking 
machine. 

All 
the 
while 
as 
we take 
photographs, 
we 
are 
an 
object
of 
interes
t to
 the 
local 
residents.
 
A
 group
 of 
young 
teenaged 
school girls 
encounter 
us 
and 
one 
girl 
takes 
out 
her 
camera 
to 
photograph 
me,

 reversing 
roles 
to 
focus 
on 
us as 
exotic
 visitors.

Later
 in 
Hebron 
we 
walk 
along 
padlocked shops 
in 
a 
zone where
 Palestinians 
have 
been 
evicted.
 The Peacemakers 
tell 
us 
that 
the 
Israel i
government 
has 
determined 
that 
the 
street 
closure 
was 
a 
mistake, but 
now 
the 
Israeli 
military 
commander 
wants 
to 
keep 
the 
street
 closed 
and 
so 
it 
remains. 


A 
lasting
memory 
is 
the 
poignant
 mark 
of 
white
 prints 
of 
open 
hands 
left 
to 
protect 
a 
closed 
shop 
in 
a 
sign 
of hope 
amid 
the 
desolation 
of
 the 
deserted
 streets.

Fatima Hand on locked doors

Words 
and
 Realities:

 Settlements 
and 
Refugee
 Camps 


by 
Kitty 
Donnelly


In 
the 
news 
about 
Israel
 and
 Palestine,
 we 
often 
hear 
the 
word s
”settlements”
and 
”refugee 
camps”.  These 
words 
had
 conjured 
up 
mental 
images 
for
 me 
that
 contrasted 
strongly 
with
 what
 we 
saw
 on 
our visit . 

”Settlements”
sounded 
like 
small 
outposts 
of 
temporary 
homes,
 gradually 
becoming 

communities of 
more 
established 

houses.

 But
 driving
 through 
the
 West
 Bank
 countryside, 
we
 mostly 
saw
 large mountain
top
“settlement”
 towns 
crowded 
with 
recently‐built 
rows 
of 
multiple 
apartment
 buildings
and 
houses, 
populated 
with 
tens 
of 
thousands
 of 
Israeli 

Jewish 
settlers.
 
These 
new 
towns 
or 
cities 
were large, 
modern, 
and
 permanent. 

We 
did 
pass 
one 
new 
temporary 
settlement 
of 
half 
a 
dozen 
trailers 
near a 
built 
up 
settlement‐this 
way 
a
 site 

not 
authorized 
by 
the 
Israeli 
government 
begins 
as 
”facts 
on
 the ground”
 with 
the 
likely 
outcome 
of 
being 
authorized 
by 
the 
government 
after 
the 
fact 
as 
”expansion 
to accommodate 
natural
 opulation
 growth.”

.Settlements
The 
words 
”refugee
c amp”
 also 
suggested 
temporary 
housing, though 
many 
families
 have 
lived 
in “camps” 
more 
than 
60 
years.

 Visiting 
the
 Aid 

refugee
 camp,
 land 
crowded 
with 
homes 
near Bethlehem, 

we 
walked 
past 
one 
of 
the 
original 
single 
story 
concrete 
UN 
camp 
dwellings 
with 
very 
little living
 space 
for 
a 
family.
 
But 
as 
the 
camp
 land 
was 
fixed 
and
 population 
grew, 
the 
homes 
have 
been expanded 
and 
built 
up 
by 
individual 
families
 into 
a 
dense 
variety 
of 
buildings
 of
 multiple 
stories,
 with plants 
growing 
in
 pots 
and
 boxes 
on 
ledges 
and 
staircases 
to 
make 
up 
for 
the 
lack
 of 
green 
space.  Expansion 
of 
land 
for 
natural
 population 
growth 
is
 not 
an 
option 
in 
the 
camps.

 We 
saw 
no 
open 
spaces for 
children 
to
 play
 other 
than 
the 
streets 
or 
the 
bare 
land 
along 
the 
separation 
wall.

 The 
wall 
provided a 
surface 
for 
creative 
graffiti, 
slogans
 and 
artwork 
depicting 
all
 the 
villages 
that 
the 
camp 
residents 
had been 
forced 
to 
leave 
decades 
ago.

Aida Refugee Camp

During 
our 
visi
t to the 
Aida 
camp, 
we 
were 
interested 
to 
hear 
that
the 
land
 on 
which 
the
 camp 
is 
built 
is 
temporary, 
the 
land 
is 
on 

a 
99 
year 
lease.
 
As 
decades 
have already 
passed 
since 
the 
camp
 was 
opened, 
we 
can 
only
wonder
 what 
will 
become 
of 
the 
thousands living 
in 
Aida 
and 
other 
camps 
when 
the 
lease
 runs 
out.
So 
now 
we 
understand
 that 
settlements
 are 
permanent
…..and 
literally 
new 
Israeli 
towns.
 Refugee camps 
are 
temporary…..
but 
in 
fact, 
decades 
old 
Palestinian 
neighborhoods 
or 
towns 

built 
on
 land
 with a 
lease 
running 
out
.


 These 
are 
the 
facts 
on 
the 
ground
 and 
they
 point 
to 
the 
difficulties 
that 
lie 
ahead and
 must 
be 
faced.

Reflections of the Galilee

Being on the Galilee by Kitty

The Galilee is the antithesis of Jerusalem.  We left  the crowded city surrounded by parched hills and silvery green olive groves, drove through the checkpoint for a few hours of the bustle and vitality of Ramallah, the working capitol of Palestine.  After the northern border of the West Bank, we pass another checkpoint and as we climb the rugged hills beyond the cities throb, the land gives way gradually to the brighter green of grass and crops. The landscape is no longer convoluted valleys but instead centers on a broad body of water with the heights of theGolan rising beyond.

.Karen-Galilee with Golan Hills

We hopscotch from sacred site to shrine with lumbering buses full of tourists from every corner of the globe. Much of what we see are evocative ruins, remnants of ancient Christian mosaics of water birds and Roman foundations of cities that stood here in the time of Jesus.

Kitty-Mosaic

We search to find the brief moment of quiet which allows the mind to imagine the crowd that witnessed the miracle of the loaves and fishes. We find it in the Monastery at Tabgha where the plain open nave and the simple ancient mosaic of a small basket of loaves and two fish in remembrance of that miracle.  Here is quiet and we can focus in contemplation on the Jesus who quietly spoke to the men pulling their nets from the sea. And they left the nets and their boats because he was so compelling.

Karen-Tabgha

Karen-Refection at Tabgha

We lunch on St. Peter’s fish beside the sea of Galilee, gazing over the water.

Karen-St.Peter's Fish

A dark storm with strong winds gathers and moves across the water churning white caps. In Jesus’ day, the water was much higher and the sea was larger. It is easy to imagine the distress his followers felt in a small boat in the middle of that large expanse of water when a storm came quickly upon them as their Lord slept.

After lunch, we walk through a quiet garden and past a small church with rough hewn stone steps into the shallow water of the sea. This is believed to be the place where Jesus appeared to his disciples after the Resurrection.  Here he prepared a breakfast for them on the beach.  Soon our group is alone and we wade into the waters of the Sea of Galilee and collect black basalt stones from the rocky beach.

Kitty-Wade in Galilee

Outside the doors to the church Susanne Allen sings a verse of a favorite St. Mark’s hymn about the disciples…(simple fishermen) and the Sea of Galilee……soon we are reconstructing the verses and we sing them once again. The words and music carry us back to the disciples’ time and yet ring true for our experiences on this pilgrimage as well.

“The peace of God, it is no peace, but strife closed in the sod. But let us pray for but one thing, the marvelous peace of God.

Late afternoon, we arrive at the Mount of Beatitudes hospice. The hilltop gardens overlooking the Sea of Galilee have individual plaques (each noting Jesus’s sayings of the blessed). Around the promontory, the sun is setting and drenching the clouds and landscape with breathtaking shifting colors.

Karen-Beatitudes

There is a feeling of being in a sacred space set aside. That night our group celebrates compline in the sanctuary of the garden and the spoken and sung word resonate and echoes around us.

Kitty-Sunset

This special place feels filled with peace and close to heaven.

Kitty

Sounds from Morning to Night

A  Pilgrimage Reflection by Kitty

Waking from disrupted sleep on our first morning in Jerusalem, we hear the sounds of children on the playground at St. George’s school across the road from the Cathedral of St. George in Jerusalem. It educates both Christian and Muslim children and is known as a place fostering tolerance and understanding in a city and country where schools mostly serve children of one religion.  These sounds of young voices full of energy and excitement at being together for another day of learning strike a note of hope for the start of the day.

St. George's Close and Garden

St. George’s Close and Garden

Christians are a shrinking minority in the Holy Land, but as Bishop Suheil Dawani noted to us, they play an important moderating role between the much larger Jewish and Muslim populations.  St. George’s School (and other institutions of the Diocese of Jerusalem) provide a significant opportunity for children of the region to develop lasting friendships and mutual understanding.

After a hearty Middle Eastern breakfast, we hear the fading roar of a leaf blower in the Biblical gardens on the Cathedral grounds. Sounds of the modern city rise outside the Cathedral close: car horns bleating, clanks of metal mingle with birds chirping in the green oasis of the garden trees, children’s and teachers’ voices from the school classrooms above us, whisper of breezes in the trees.

Climbing the Ottoman walls of the Old City, we enjoy wonderful vistas of the narrow crowded suk, the elevated rooftops and life of the Old City as well as the newer city beyond the walls on the west side and the Mount of Olives and Jordanian hills to the east.

Sisters of Charity - Kitty

Walking above the Christian Quarter we spot workmen below and a Catholic priest in black with a magenta sash supervising from a balcony above. He nods and says hello. Sisters of Charity in their white and blue saris hurriedly gather their wash from the lines as a rare rain fell at midday, and a Palestinian woman doing the same gathering in smiles as we pass. The Old City roofs bristles with dish antennas and solar water tanks that evidence the many people who live within the walls.

Rooftops - Kitty

Suddenly  the Dome of Rock on the Haram al Sharif (the noble sanctuary) comes

into view, just as the midday call to prayer echoes across the Old City

from several mosques and church bells ring out.

 Dome of the Rock - Kitty

Later at the Armenian Cathedral of St. James, we hear the muffled soundof monks striking wooden boards as the call to evening service.  It is a holdover from the Ottoman era when ringing church bells was forbidden.

St James- Kitty

Before Friday dinner we gather in the Cathedral courtyard to talk and enjoy the cool of the evening. Suddenly amplified Hebrew blares as a vehicle with loudspeaker makes several rounds in the neighborhood, calling the Jewish faithful to observe Shabbat. But we and the vehicle are in Palestinian East Jerusalem. This call is not a helpful reminder for non-Jews but more like an intrusion or even a provocation. Even sounds can carry overtones of intent, good and bad.

Our first evening in Jerusalem, as dusk fell, we heard the muezzin’s amplified call to prayer at the small mosque up the street from St. George’s. The mosque bright lit with typical green neon lights, the color green representing Mohammed’s favorite color.

Mosque-Kitty_0458

These unfamiliar sounds remind us that we Christian visitors are a minority here, but tied to this place by shared Biblical stories.  Though we visitors and sojourners will leave with memories and impressions, we do not live with the daily challenges of this much beloved and conflicted land.  Our work is to carry the life and witness of  those who create a holy life and a new hope in this long contested land.

Kitty

The Pilgrimage Meeting with Bishop Suheil Dawani by Fritz Henn

Today, all except one of our St. Marks group arrived and took the morning for their own exploration of the Holy City. While some visited the Israel Museum, another contingent  headed for the Old City, winding their way through the crowded bazaar-like souks of the Arab Quarter to the Jewish Quarter where they were confronted with a crush of Jewish celebrants on the last day of Sukkoth, wearing a variety of elegant prayer shawls and impressive hats.

In the afternoon, our group received greetings from Bishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Jerusalem, who had just returned from the US Conference of Bishops and was able to share our jet lag.  The Bishop spoke passionately about the role of Christians in the region, the tragedy in Syria and displacement of a generation of Syrian children, and the potential loss of the oldest Christian community in the world that still speak Aramaic. He also pointed to the extensive work of the Diocese providing medical clinics and schools throughout the region.  With the help of the Episcopal Church in America, the Diocese hopes to develop a cancer treatment center in Gaza, where there are no treatment facilities for cancer. Gazans are particularly at risk since permits for travel are difficult to impossible to get. The Rev. Justi Schunior thanked the Bishop for his hospitality and presented him with a check from the St. Mark’s Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Offerings designated for the work of the Diocese of Jerusalem.  She also carried a letter of greeting from our rector, The Rev. Paul Abernathy, and expressed a continued commitment to support for the efforts of the Diocese.

Image

Later, we met with the MEJDI team and were introduced to our guides, their backgrounds and some logistical details of the tour. The guides are remarkable with a wealth of experience. Yuval, our young Jewish guide lived in the Washington area as a child, and has a long history of working to acquaint young Jews and Palestinians with one another, hosts a weekly radio program, and acts as a guide for groups interested in hearing both the Jewish narrative and the Palestinian one as well. Our Palestinian guide, Faraj,  brings a more mature experience.   He has retired after teaching as a Lutheran Deacon for 32 years in Palestine. He studied theology in Germany, speaks German, English, Hebrew and Arabic, that I heard and promises to be a wealth of information. After an informative session we all went to dinner together and had a wonderful meal at St. Georges.

First Visit to the Old City…. the Armenian Quarter by Hank Donnelly

  Amid the crush of thousands of Jewish families celebrating Sukkoth, as well as police activity associated with reported political demonstrations, an advance guard of St. Mark’s pilgrims found an oasis of calm Tuesday afternoon at the Armenian Cathedral of the Two St. James in the Old City of Jerusalem. Open to visitors only during services, the church and attached seminary holds a vespers service each afternoon at 3 pm, which gave the pilgrims a chance to experience the 11th century structure and get a glimpse of the spiritual life of the Armenian community.

     Except for a tour group that stayed only briefly, the pilgrims were among just a handful of visitors to the service, which brought together 50 or more black robed seminarians and a smaller number of hooded priests or monks. The service was held in mid-afternoon to take advantage of natural light from windows in the domed ceiling, thus avoiding the trouble and expense of lighting the hundreds of oil lamps that hung from the ceiling.

    The short service would have been familiar to Western Christians in its outlines, other than obviously being in in Armenian. It began with a reading from the Bible, followed by prayers and chants that highlighted the impressively deep and masculine voices of the seminarians and priests or monks. Once the half-hour service was over, the participants filed out quickly, leaving behind a bit of the aura and mystery of a religious tradition stretching back to the early 4th century.

    As the St. Mark’s group was leaving, a priest kindly reached out to offer a brief history of the church. He noted that the bodies of the two St. James were buried beneath the church, while acknowledging that at least part of the remains of St. James the Apostle had found their way to northwestern Spain. He also took pains to make clear that the other St. James, called the brother of Jesus, was not really the brother of the Savior, but perhaps a child of Joseph’s first marriage.

     Over all, the visit offered a powerful experience of both the unity and diversity of world Christianity in all its variety.

Pilgrimage Hopes and Expectations – A Mosaic

Pilgrimage Expectations and Hopes – A Mosaic

In preparation for our travel to the Holy Land, we have many ideas and emotions about the journey.  We have read and heard stories and facts.  Everyday, our eyes and ears are attentive to the news and the human stories being told.  There are constant shifts in perspective and policy and promise.

In a meeting, about a month ago, we did an exercise posting single words that described our Expectations and our Hopes for the journey.  As we depart, I think these words are still applicable and will be touchstones as we live into the pilgrimage.

Expectations         Hopes

Sacred               Friendships

Anger                Understanding

Despondence      Insights

Seeking              Exploration

Surprises            Grace

Friendships          New Relationships

Confusion           Admiration

Possibilities         Faith

Adventure          Awareness

Learning             Tolerance

Tradition             Discovery

Frustration          Deepening

Ancient Sites       Mediterranean Climate

Discomfort          Good food

May we all find what we hope for and more!