I entered the Old City of Jerusalem again, but it took me a few weeks to get there. I chose the Lion's gate to enter, don't ask me why it just felt right to come from East. It was quiet, where was the hate, I could see in children's eyes two years before. Was it gone?
Before entering the Old City of Jerusalem/al-Quds, I was near Gaza in Aschkelon, changed buses in Be'er Scheva. Did a headstand at Ben Gurion's and his wife's tomb in Sede Boker in the desert. Meditated in the dessert next to the crater cliff at Mizpe Ramon. Passed at night a skate board park in Eilat at the Red Sea in the south. Was in Akko and Haifa up north. Visited Hebron and Bethlehem. Crossed boarders, and saw walls. Walked in olive gardens in the Jenin hills. Ate sweets in Nablus and drank tea in Ramallah. Prayed in a mosque and honored political leaders of all sides. Walked to monasteries in Jericho and walked the neighborhoods around. Went to see Sefat, on a hill in the Galilee, without having heard of the Kabbalah. Saw Mount Hermon and the Druse city Majdal Shams. Stayed with friends next to the Jordan river in the kibbutz Beit Hilel, near Kirjat Schmona. Went to see the Syrian and the Lebanese boarder. Ate a brezel and pomelos. Could see flowers grow around sheltered places, and monuments of war, and the pain of lost communities. Could find poems of pain and forgiveness and old keys, that cannot find a home anymore. 'Why did you leave the horse alone' asks a poem. It is the same painful process to build new homes for people without homes all around the country. I could stay in Rosh Pina again, found the olive trees and grassing cows. Something had changed. I walked around Tiberias and walked from Nazareth to Tiberias at night. I woke up in Rosh Pina. I found myself moving around churches, synagogues, gardens and libraries. Deep listening. I saw Jaffa and Tel Aviv and crossed the wish gate again. I wanted to see peace. Wanted to work on a nuclear free world and wanted to feel love.
Seeking harmony in the Galilee
I came back to the Galilee and to Nazareth after the vipassana meditation. This time I did not wait for the bus, as I did the year before, but walked from the bus station to Nazareth. This time, I had time to see the architecture around me. Houses did not follow a clear pattern but followed a different logic, I thought. The place I stayed last year had changed and thanks to the new hosts, a group of British IT entrepreneurs, I could stay for a night. I stayed in Nazareth for a few days. This place was telling me more, than I thought. I had time to explore. And still it took me a few days to walk up the hill to the mosque. There was always a reason not to walk uphill, sometimes the wind just told me to turn left instead of walking straight. I waited for the right moment and could feel the place more deeply. Could feel the love for my father and mother, friends and family. It was hard to feel it all at the same time. I walked around a lot. I came back again, walked more. After a while it felt less work to feel balanced. There was so much beauty to see, too. I felt welcomed and becoming part of the rich culture in the Galilee, in Israel and Palestine. I was impressed by the light's beauty and brightness.
Talking to God, thinking justice
Quite often I was in a deep conversation with my heart and with God, as a higher entity. Was I looking to find Jesus? I think I was looking to find my own way. "It is not about Jesus, it is about justice," I thought when seeing the Court House. Nazareth was a place I needed to explore on my own, just following my own ideas and steps. I could feel my feet again, on the ground, staying on the ground. Maybe the first time in my life. I was looking to ground my heart and to connect me to a powerful place. My heart was longing for someone to love, to be loved and to care for someone. I walked following an energy and an energy followed me. It was a deep conversation. A conversation that took place in Nazareth, Tiberias and Rosh Pina, too. It is a mystical place, the Galilee. A place of blessing and wisdom. I met good and strong souls. Reminded me of where I am coming from. Is this the time to build roads again?
I saw quite clearly: peace is possible and it is happening. Between Israel and Palestine and between neighboring countries. Maybe it is only a wish, maybe it will becoming reality. Maybe it is reality? Maybe someday I will be living in this country, too. The wish for peace I felt so strongly in my heart. Such a true wish. While walking around Nazareth, I thought that many people must work together to try hard to keep this place in harmony. The buildings, the streets and the light seemed to be placed in an order and with care. It just felt good to me to see it. It also felt good to get reminded to my Bavarian roots when seeing the familiar Weihenstephaner brewery signs outside some restaurants. A taste of home on my lips. Talking to an artist who told me that his work will be shown in the Allianz Arena's art gallery, a football stadium in Munich, I felt even more connected to the place. I like how our world keeps moments of openness and doesn't follow a mere two dimensional logic of good and bad or black and white. There is space for light and new ideas. It seems to me the Galilee is not a place that refuses to try new ideas.
Jerusalem was waiting for me. I was curious to be back and to see the city. Staying at the Armenian hospice in the Via Dolorosa, I had time to explore the city for a week. I just kept walking around, sometimes running around. I followed my intuition. I had the chance to meet old friends again, got invited and ate dinner by myself. I met new friends. From what I could see I saw one city. A city with different ways to warship God, to follow faith and believes. At the same time, I felt that the place is singing the same song. The atmosphere in the city had changed. Security was organized and children and young men as well as women did not play an provocative and dangerous war. There is tension thought. It was a careful balance, still based on mistrust and hope. The sound of the city had changed within two years. As if people started talking with each other again. At least at some level. As if great brothers tell their little siblings, please, don't through stones, or older sisters tell younger brothers to walk with care and without provoking neighbors. Security people were organized and coordinating with each other, was my, maybe naive, impression. I was surprised. I could not see hate in children's eyes. Jews and Palestinians were playing soccer, playing though at different fields. Old brother took care of younger sisters; girlfriends of their boyfriends. A Jewish girl was reading outside the walls while a muslim taxi driver was praying next to her.
A language of truth
Art and design, a language I observe when traveling, told also a story beyond hate and pain. I saw many colors and symbols of togetherness, love and hope. In a sculpture park in a shopping district, sculptures showed women dancing, laughing, children pouting, colorful butterflies sitting on an olive tree. It seemed to me that the artistic language overcame the sorrow and pain from the Holocaust and from building a country for the Jewish nation. I think this also could be true for the Nakba and the pain of building a new home for the Palestinian nation. A painful process in many ways for everybody. I saw signs of hope and peace. Music and art is a rich language and it is vital for everyone in the Middle East.
I slept in the rose garden for one night between the Parliament of Israel and the Supreme Court of Israel. Following the principles of human rights is such an important process we are in. It is about speaking and doing justice. Especially at such a holy place like in Jerusalem. The places where we decide about the space between right and wrong and the places of tolerance and forgiveness are not only the holy sites but also the houses where people meet to come to conclusions, forming compromises. I want to see this places strong and shining in the light of truth and honesty. I want to see, that we take care of mother nature. Taking care for people and nature is an art.
For me it is hard to see the state of Israel and the state of Palestine as two separated entities. It just doesn't make sense to me. The landscape doesn't invite clear separation. The country seems only to function as one unite. I wonder how this can be organized. From just traveling and from seeing the place with my own eyes, I only see Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestine. The place can hold it and the place cannot be divided. It is a holy place. I don't see God wanting the place to be divided. It is also a facts that within the past 70 years, Israel has become a state. It is real and it is in many many ways very beautiful. For me the question is, what will happen in the future and how will we see the place holding all expectations?
When walking Jerusalem's streets, under the olive trees in Jenin or in Rosh Pina, my heart was filled with love. I needed to tell and I needed to find someone to share my love. Finding God was an honorable experience. Dancing around the hills in Nazareth was so needed for my soul. I felt grateful every day. Meeting strong people, warm people and wise people filled my heart with joy and make me think. I also saw pain and sickness. Heavy sadness on shoulders and hearts. I saw fences and walls. I tried not to judge but to listen and to listen carefully to all I knew and learned. What could I see?
I fell in love with a woman and got lost. When passing a silver smith in Old City Jerusalem he asked me to step in and look at his work. I was wondering what will come to my eye. A turtle shining in read and yellow, to symbolize the ocean and life, a with stone to see trinity and wisdom, a Lion of Judea covered in blue Roman glass symbolizing humility, justice and care. And I saw two tears holding each other, a silver work embedding a white, colorful glamourous stone, expressing all emotions I've felt. He saw it. The man asked me to come back again the next day and I did. He told me that a Beduin sheik told him that I will find someone, "the lady in America" as he said, to give it. I believed and payed half the price, promising to come back again next summer to pay for the rest.
Is God coming home? Does he play soccer?
Can I trust my intuition the way I do? The weeks in Israel and Palestine, in the Galilee, at the ocean and in the dessert showed me that I can. At least most of the time. Not all of it makes sense right away, I admit, and still, what I feel and see holds truth. I hope it does and I hope my feelings will serve me well in the future. All the places I went to and all the people I spoke to, what kind of feelings did I perceive? Many wise people are working together, I intuitively would say. Maybe it is also the light or the moon that sometimes tells the story of truth and honesty. In 2017 the Jewish Passover and Christian Easter holidays happened to be in the same week. Jerusalem was a busy place. The power I felt when joining Jewish prayers or Christian prayers was strong. The Temple Mount, the Haram Al Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), kept its calming and quiet energy. The things you can buy in the city speak a language of happiness, peace and togetherness. Even the T-shirts in the shops are sending positive messages. The Western Wall has a loving and warm vibration. I hope to see this strong language of peace, justice and sustainability to spread and to be understood in the world.
The Jewish boy I was playing soccer with around midnight in the Jerusalem's Sacha Park tells me that it is important for him to feel proud to be a Jew. To see him and his friends eating pizza, playing soccer, dancing to Rap music at midnight and to still be a religious person made me feel proud of him and his friends. It made me proud to see. There is a Jewish state, yes there is. I see signs of peace, this gives me hope. What do I miss to see. What needs to be done to see real peace, for all people living in the borders of Israel and Palestine? I want to come back again.
I wonder how redemption will be possible, especially in a world of military deterrence. What does it mean to be Jewish and living in the Middle East? What does it mean to be a Jew in our world? Does God really need to be protected by deterrence? Does redemption need deterrence? He might walk around between us, playing soccer in the Sacher Park. What does it mean to train parkour in the Jewish Old Town -- ask Sami. He is very patient in his wisdom. Redemption needs recognition, justice and words of mutual honor to open hearts, walls, and boarders.
We can talk to each other.