Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pilgrimage Over Land vs. Pilgrimage Over Time, Place, and People

I am looking at the stubs and receipts I accumulated while in Israel. My "Old Testament" Hebrew lessons from Princeton help me in identifying the symbols, but little else makes sense, save for "Shalom" and "Israel" in Hebrew. Those are readily identifiable. I am smitten by the Arabic scroll, the fluidity of line that is seen a little bit in the Hebrew lettering, which tends to be more like blocks, save for the one character that is "l" in Hebrew, or the shema.

In the YMCA in Chapel Hill, NC, I quickly noticed the woman in Muslim dress yesterday, walking her young son down the stairs to the pool. On my desk is the text "Walk humbly with your God" in Hebrew lettering.

My legs and feet--which ached a few days after returning--are back to normal. But the culture, the people, the voices, the smells, linger on, especially as I smell the tapers from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, or listen to a c.d. of a woman singing Arabic songs.

The pilgrimage we were on was more or less a pilgrimage not only on and over the land, but among a people, who have left their imprint upon my life. I hear their voices. I wake up expecting to hear a distant minaret's amplifier sharing the evening prayer. I see the woman sitting in the middle of the street begging for alms, along with the gentleman who was blind in Nazareth, his curled hand collecting alms. I bought humus last night at Harris Teeter just to remember the taste, though missing the meat and pine nuts.

The culture lingers in me. It has entered the marrow of my existence.

Pilgrimage continues onward...salaam and shalom...B