Tag Archives: Palestine

image of the day: jesus weeps

looking out over Jerusalem from the Mt of Olives

I took this photo on a trip to Israel and Palestine in the fall of 2005. I was jet lagged, and up way too early, so I went wandering down the Mt. of Olives from the hotel where our group was staying.

There was a gate that was partially open, and a man begging outside of it motioned me to go in. When I did, I found workers harvesting olives (thus the name of the Mt.) and the door to the Dominus Flevit Church open. Being the only person there at that hour of the morning, I had the church to myself and was able to get this shot, looking out its window, onto the Old City of Jerusalem.

Dominus Flevit is the name given to the church constructed on the site thought to be that where Jesus wept over Jerusalem (as found in Luke 19:41-42).

“As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”

Today, May 15, marks the anniversary of what, in Israel is reffered to as Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut in Hebrew) commemorating the creation of the State of Israel, but what, among the Palestinians is referred to as the ‘Nakba‘ or ‘Catastrophe’ commemorating the displacement of the Palestinian people that took place in order to create the State of Israel.

Having read this morning about the violence erupting between Palestinian protestors and Israeli military in various border locations it seemed to me that Jesus might still be weeping.

Let There Be Peace on Earth…or else

Greetings from Newport Beach, home of John Wayne and the Christmas Boat Parade,

Ever since I sent the email about the plight of Bethlehem, I have been trying to come up with some sort of a follow-up. But what I found, on the remainder of my two weeks in Israel/Palestine, was that I was becoming more and more angry about what I was witnessing (due to the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank) and could not figure out a way to write about it without simply inflicting the anger onto all of you.

Now, though I am no stickler for logic, somehow it just didn’t seem to make a lot of sense to have the message be one of peace, but the method be one of not peace.  Sure, there are definitely times in life to be angry especially when dealing with injustice.  But what has been percolating in my mind is this idea that if you want to promote peace, then somehow the way you go about it should match up, no?  Thus the old, “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”  Somehow it always seems easier, though, to say “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with you.”  Hmmm, not a bad sermon topic.

Speaking of sermon topics, I recently had to report to my ordination committee why in the world it has been so long and I still have no ‘call.’  (Explaining that I have been busy outrunning mad cows in Austria or planting Shasta Daisies didn’t seem like the answer they were looking for.)  I was at risk of being categorized as ‘languishing in the process.’  I kind of like the title, personally, so was a bit disappointed (but please don’t change your mind, committee members that might be reading this) that I passed inspection.  I can just see it printed on a business card, “Erin Dunigan, Languishing in the Process.”  It’s definitely got conversation potential.

But on a more serious note, (though not too serious, since we have already dealt with peace in the Middle East, which seems serious enough for one email) I am still in the ‘call process’ but let’s just say I am trying to, at the same time, listen for alternate ring tones.  Don’t press me on that one, because I have no idea what it means, but somehow it has a nice, shall we say, ring to it.

In the meantime (which I think might be a good title for this period of my life, though I guess it would assume that there is actually something that will come after the meantime…) I have been involved in a variety of endeavors such as working freelance as a writer, photographer, computer geek, house-sitter and church stewardship campaigner. If it all sounds a bit like a random combination, it’s probably because it is.

So, there you have it.

In weather news, it is cloudy today, definitely dropping into those colder winter temperatures they have been talking about. The thermostat reads 62 degrees, so it looks like I will be able to wear my favorite winter accessories after all. I mean, nothing says down coat, scarf, beanie and gloves like 62 degrees…

By the way, I have new photos (Middle East, Mississippi trip, Huntington Lake) posted for your viewing pleasure.

From the Gulf Coast to the West Bank…

I realize, it is an odd combination, but here I am in Jericho, the West Bank, and I wanted to share a bit of the experience with yáll (for my Mississippi friends!). Just as a side note, Jericho is like the Palm Springs of Israel, but due to the occupation, Israelis, I understand, are not allowed to travel here (it is in the West Bank) so our group has this beautiful hotel to ourselves…

I am here in the West Bank and Israel as part of a conference with a group called Sabeel (www.sabeel.org for more info). They work with Palestinian Christians (yes, there is such a group) specifically in issues of suffering, justice and peace as it relates to the ongoing Israeli occupation. I realize this is a rather volatile topic to discuss, and it is not my intent to offend any of you, but I also have to say that I am finding myself less and less ‘neutral’on the situation. I am sorry that this email will not be as lighthearted as my encounter with the Austrian mad cows, but I do feel compelled to share with you what I have seen and heard. Yes, there are definitely two sides to the conflict here, but I would say that the two sides are not Israeli and Palestinian but those who are seeking peace and those who are resorting to violence.

Today we visited Bethlehem. At the risk of ruining a favorite Christmas carol, today the phrase ‘how still we see thee lie (or is it lay? I am not sure the song or the grammar…)’ was most definitely true, but not in the sentimentality of the song. Bethlehem is a Palestinian community, about 75% Muslim and 25% Christian. It is now surrounded by the Separation Wall (some would call it a ‘Security’Wall and others an Apartheid Wall, depending on your perspective). The people of Bethlehem cannot leave the town without a permit, which is very difficult for them to obtain. Bethlehem is about 10 minutes from Jerusalem and has traditionally been a suburb of it, with its residents working in Jerusalem. Its other economic livelihood has been tourism. Both have come to a near standstill due to the Wall. As I saw the Wall today and heard stories from Palestinian Christian leaders about the plight of their people, I struggled as to how I could possibly communicate the direness of the situation to you, without you being here to see it yourself. As I am using the hotels one computer, and there are others waiting to check email, I am afraid that I cannot be more polished in my presentation. To find out more and to see more statistical data you can check out the site Open Bethlehem, which I believe is http://www.openbethlehem.org . At the least, I would hope that if you find yourself singing that Christmas carol this year, you would remember the people of Bethlehem. I am sorry, I don’t mean to be Scrooge, but I feel that possibly the only thing that I can do to help the situation is to at least make it known.

One highlight of the trip is one of the other conference attendees, Eddie, who is the secretary of the World Council of Churches for South Africa. He was jailed during the apartheid struggle in South Africa and has been sharing his story over meals of hummus, pita, tomatoes, olives… It has also been wonderful to reconnect with five of the trip participants from my last year’s visit: Pat from NY, Sue and Sandy from CA, and Roger and Enid from England.

I do not want to keep the woman from Nicaragua waiting any longer (this conference is international and ecumenical, representing many continents and all major branches of the church including Catholic, Easter Orthodox, and many flavors of Protestant, but more on that later…) for the computer, so that is it for now.

Peace, Salaam (Arabic) and Shalom (Hebrew)