Sunday, July 17, 2011

Becoming Jerusalem (a true story)

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.”  

                                        Rhonda Palmer

1 comment:

  1. What a great writing Rhonda! What an amazing experience. We did not get to go to Jerusalem due to the bus bombings in 2002. Thank you for distilling (I hope that's the right word) your experiences. Love, Christy