Friday, October 10, 2008

Journal portion written June 25, the day of the dedication of the "String Bridge" as it is called - at the entrance to Jerusalem. Suspended in air, it's modernistic appearance seems out of place - an unbefitting symbol for the entrance to this unparalleled City, even a bit superfluous and pompous. But that's neither here nor there... My mountain top experience put things in perspective.

I was not thrilled with this monstrosity at the gateway to kind of looked like an accident waiting to fact, there have been some engineering issues with it already. I can see it from my window....or at least part of it, sticking up above the buildings and totally out of place in the Jerusalem landscape. At night there is a flashing white beacon at the top, presumably to alert low flying aircraft. Ahh. modernizing this ancient city is quite the task, and everyone wants input. Interestingly, now, months later, it is beginning to look like a familiar landmark - but one that highlights the struggle between imposed modernity and the unique character of Yerushalayim.

That night however, I was out walking in the hills, overlooking the City at night as I love to do. I was depressed and tearful about matters unrelated to the bridge and had actually forgotten about the dedication. Yet, even from my place in the hills, one could feel the festivity. There were fireworks, songs and speeches and it was that kind of warm Jerusalem night where the sounds and activities that are taking place in the City reverberate throughout the hills and neighborhoods. My spirits evenutally lifted but it wasn't the bridge that did it - it was a 6 year old girl and her abba, and a beautiful 29 year old man whose spirit could not be broken. Here is a portion of my journal entry for that day:

"Tonight as I stood on the mountain top and saw the bridge being dedicated across the way with fireworks, lights and hoopla, somewhere the songs of Zion were being sung. I'm not even sure if they were coming from the bridge dedication or from closer by...on warm Jerusalem evenings, the sounds of the night mingle together as they reverberate throughout the hills. The songs were beautiful and they filled my heart with tears.

My thoughts at first were of the phony politicians there, giving Zionist speeches at the same time that they are betraying the country. How dare they depression deepened.

And then I met a young man and his little daughter. The man - about age 30 - stopped me and pointed to the bridge; he and his daughter were both so excited to see this magical creation floating the air. The little girl, about 6, said to her Abba, "Daddy, will it stay up in the air, or will it just fall down?"

It was not the first time I have observed in Israelis a simple wonder at ordinary things......To hear the sweet innocence from a 6 year old is one thing, but to see it in the general population is another... In the midst of the balagan, the turmoil and an enemy crouching at our door, Israelis still believe in the magic of life, and with it comes hope.

Then I remembered something else even more important that I knew was taking place just a few blocks away - in the other direction from the bridge. A very special 29 year old man, in spite of his pain from a difficult year of personal hurt and betrayal, wanted to make a difference in the lives of those who needed affection, and he was making a room full of handicapped men and women feel important and happy and loved by throwing them a party.

It was then I knew that in spite of the olmerts and the pereses, Israel would survive.

The ability to marvel at the magic of life and the strength to take hardship and pain and turn it around by reaching out to others is a unique combination that Israelis possess.....and I knew that in spite of everything traumatic that goes on here, we will make it.

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