Eighty-four nights. That is what we paid for at the Armenian Guest House at 36 Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem. For that money, we received a good room in a wonderful location from which to spend twelve weeks making memories, having experiences, and meeting new friends. And how does one put a price tag on those things?

Our final week has been spent saying good-bye to people, attending lectures, visiting favorite spots and discovering new ones, sometimes by accident! Last week, on a final trip over to the Israeli museum, we went right when we should have walked left. We ended up cutting through the rose garden at the Knesset. Minutes after John had just said we hadn’t seen any of the protests that happen regularly at the Knesset, we came to five foot wall above a protest. Soldiers and police were standing calmly by. The mostly woman soldiers were surprised to see us appear above them in the bushes. After ascertaining that we were not A problem and that we were indeed now going in the right direction to the museum, two soldiers helped me lower me down from the wall (John was fine on his own) and off we went.

This was in marked contrast to the afternoon sung Vespers at St. James Armenian Orthodox Church. Calm, cool, colorful, ethereal, it was a far cry from politics in Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we first arrived, it was cold, the last throes of winter. We are leaving in high heat, the beginning of summer. We experienced the first of the strawberries as well as apricots and now cherries in the markets. Tulips were starting to bloom when we arrived; roses and bougenvilla abound now.  

We experienced Ash Wednesday, Purim, Holy Week, Passover, Eastern and Western Easter, and the Night Ride of Mohammad. In between seasons, harvests and holidays, we experienced great beauty, breathtaking wonders, broad history, culture and art, good food, and fun times. We have also seen  firsthand the institutionalized violence in action and an occupational system that is “painting itself into a corner” of failure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow, after we leave the Guest House that has been home for so many weeks, we will sight-see our way to the airport near Tel Aviv. There is still much to see in this Holy Land including a village that may have been Biblical Emmaus, a monastery famous for its wine, Herod’s ancient seaport, and a small town that has often been our “first night off the plane” resting place.

Eighty-four nights plus two spent in planes: a rich, rewarding time. Landing at home, God willing, on the Feast of St. Brendan the Navigator, the Irish saint who got into a “coracle without oars” to discover where God was leading, we will leave this place deeply satisfied and thankful. We, too, will look forward to seeing where our “coracle” ultimately lands.

Shalom and good night!