On my one day there, the streets of old Jerusalem offered to sell me souvenirs that might say:
“here was Jerusalem.”
I handled the blue tiles and rainbow scarves, the jewelry and tea cups, but left them all behind to watch the pageant that had been walking this crooked street for a thousand years.
Into this ancient place came grizzled priests, long beards, high hats, prayers rising with scented smoke.
Nuns flocked by, dimple cheeked, smiling, nodding, prayer beads clicking.
Soft-eyed Hasid, fringes swaying, walked softly to an ancient wall to offer fervid supplications.
A muezzin called the many faithful to an appointment with God. Those faithful held hands up to God.
Ragged children prayed, calling: “Lady, lady, lady. . .”
I, the Baha’i, claimed all this heritage, feeling for roots deeper than a Joshua tree. Armed with one short lifetime of devotion I held this moment tight around me as history blew down my crooked street.
At a sudden corner I bowled into a group of saffron-robed men—their shaved heads gleaming in the Jerusalem sun. I prayed forgiveness from my six foot vantage to their five foot selves and saw
the Dalai Lama himself smiling up and nodding a cheerful absolution.
I became one of many souvenirs that day—took myself home in a bag of pottery and ancient coin. Learned to say—
“Here, here is Jerusalem.”