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Take a walk with me…

Today I’m feeling nostalgic, and therefore will write, but not in my standard way (as you can tell by my title). (and yes, I will get back to my favorite moments at some point…)
I just had an overwhelming feeling of wanting to be back in Israel. I can envision in my mind’s eye that I’m walking along the road headed to the Jaffa Gate. So I think today, I shall tell of the walk through the old city.

Please join me, As we go down the elevator and walk into the lobby of the Tower Hotel in Jerusalem. Walking strait, I go through the side door, because for some reason the revolving door always freaks me out just a smidge. As I walk out of my hotel, there is a large section of brick sidewalk, and then the road. To the right are shops, mainly selling clothes or coffee or some cheap accessories. And when I look to the left there’s a plethora of restaurants From Italian, Chinese, Japanese or American. Anything you want to eat is just a jaunt down the road.

Turn left to head to the old city. Walking past people, vendors and that graffiti that states “set the police in fire” on the side of the building. Such an odd thing to see posted on the side of a building. As we walk we go downhill, continuing for less than a mile, now we pass apartments and parked cars. We come to an intersection, where there are two roads curving at odd angles, which makes the sidewalk come to a sharp point where the roads meet. Time to cross, and don’t worry about waiting for the signal, as long as there aren’t any cars, you can cross. Sharp right! Cross two roads now, it’s a split road. Now just go down the stairs and you’ll see this:

This leads to the Jaffa gate

Pretty isn't it?

This is the passageway that leads to the Jaffa gate. You’ll notice that the wall ont the left has markings on it. That’s because they took it down and marked each piece and then rebuilt it, kink of like a giant puzzle. Something that my not be quite as clear from this picture is the art that line the walkway. Local artists (i belive) have sculpture lining this walkway it makes for a very chic and artsy look as you walk down. You almost feel like you’re in a giant art exhibit. The shops that line the walkway are a high price for the most part. Fancy spas or restaurants, but mainly clothes with super cute dresses in the windows.

We are now arriving at the end of the passageway, go up the stairs (amphitheater like, half circle stairs, just so you get a picture in your head). As you walk up you see the walls cascading up, there my friend is the Old City wall. From the stairs there’s a courtyard of sorts with people buzzing all around and vendors trying to sell you fresh bread and sweets. And apparently, just because they want to let you know that they’re hip, there’s a huge pice of modern art in the center of the courtyard. Looks kind of like a 40 foot tall mobile. Interesting really.

Moving forward we go through the gate, which is a huge (about 20? feet) pointed door. Then turn to the left and you’re now inside those mammoth walls that are the Old City of Jerusalem. This is what it looks like from the inside:

In the City Walls

Ooooo....Inside the City Walls

Now I don’t know if I’ve told you this or not, but did you know that all the buildings in Jerusalem (and I believe in Israel) have to be built with Israeli stone? Meaning all buildings are made with stones quarried from Israel itself. Interesting? Yes. Causing issues with a lack of building material? Yes.

If you keep going straight, following the sidewalk, you will enter the bazaar. It’s crazy and colorful and full of people and things yelling and walking and moving about. I didn’t get a picture of this. I’m sorry I failed you. walk through two slices of the bazaar then turn left then make a right, then walk down those stairs you are now entering a courtyard. to your left there is a beautiful synagogue which is being re-built, it’s one of the oldest in the city. Looking forward there are outdoor tables and chairs with umbrellas where people can sit and eat their lunch. The first time we walked down this way most of my classmates went into a small archeological museum, while me and a few others wandered around outside waiting for them. If you walk down one of the little roads it leads to a residential area, and that’s exactly where I went, you can see some of the pictures below:

Walls

A wall near the residential portion of the Old City

More Walls

A little side alley where people lived

This was actually one of my favorite times in the city. It was day 1 in Jerusalem and we only had about 15 or so minutes to take a break while the others went through the museum. But it was here that I saw the daily lives of the good Jewish Israelis. The women had their heads covered, and were wearing long skirts and 3/4 length shirts. They were taking out their trash, watching their kids and having conversations with their neighbors. It was here that I realized that they aren’t really any different from you or me. Despite the fact that they live in the Holy Land, they are still people looking to make a life for themselves. Taking care of their daily needs, and they were also people who had hurts and pains and were just as lost as anyone in the world. They were beautiful, and as I sat on a ledge under a tree, I began feeling God’s heart for his people and his land.

Israel really is a Holy Land, you can feel it when you stand there. But the funny thing is, you have to look for it. It doesn’t hit you in the face when you land in the airplane. It doesn’t hit you when you’re on the temple mount, and it doesn’t hit you when you’re standing in the countryside with a pick in your hand. It hits you when you sit and pray. When you ask God to show you. Then it hits you hard. Israel is a land full of religion…but God isn’t active there, not unless you search him out. And if you do seek him…well…hold on, it will be a crazy ride.

I got off on a tangent there…sorry.

Anyway! Going through that courtyard at an angle, you will head down a road lined with food vendors, (I got a bagel, seemed appropriate in the Jewish Quarter). Going under a large archway we keep going and make a slight shift to the right, and then you were there. At the top of the stairs looking down at the Western (Wailing) Wall. Descending the flight of stairs you go through the security system at the Wall (not unlike airport security). Then you walk out and you’re in the courtyard of the Western Wall, Isn’t it pretty?

The Courtyard for at the Western Wall

This picture wasn’t taken in the courtyard obviously, it’s taken from above, but I thought it would give you a better understanding of the layout.

From here you do your best to be respectful of the people at the Wall. If you so chose you can approach it. When I did the first time it was in the middle of the day, broad daylight. I walked up, found a small place between to women, and touched the wall. I placed my written prayers in the cracks…then I prayed. And then I cried. I cried for the people of Israel, I cried for my family, I cried for my schoolmates that were with me, and I cried for my (now) fiance. And then I cried for me.

I walked that road every day I was in Israel. From the hotel to the Jaffa gate, then normally to the Wall or somewhere around it. So I thought I’d share with you some of my walk. I hope you enjoyed the company.

Dana

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Dear Tradition

RE: An Anthropology of Traditions

I’m a traditionalist. I like traditions, I believe they bring people together and allow the current or future generations to connect to their past and history.

When I look at tradition, there are a few different types that are easily observable. Namely, religious, family, and ceremonial.

There was one time a few months ago that I was sitting with my boyfriend for dinner and we were discussing the tradition of marriage, or rather a wedding. I was telling him about how weddings have lost a lot of their traditional aspects with the changing times. It used to be that women would live with their parents until they got married and then “leave and cleave” to their husbands, and a wedding was the ceremony that marked that occasion. However, in today’s society people can’t seem to make a commitment to each other to spend the rest of their lives together until they are sure that they can live together first. This whole consept of ‘shacking up’ is throwing the concept of a wedding right out the window. What used to be a beautiful ceremony and a right of passage has now been turned into just another big party to throw for all of our friends.

This disregard for past traditions saddens me. And it’s seen in more places than just weddings. Look at religion for example (my religion of choice is the Judeo-Christian belief, but I’m sure you can see the withering of traditions in any major religion). Let’s look at a major holiday shall we? Let’s go with the latest, Easter. Traditionally a time to celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the grave. A great holiday really. But do you know what came before this holiday? Before Christ? Passover. Now, any good Jew would know about the Passover, it’s one of the staples of Jewish belief. In fact it’s made its way into the Christian realm as well. Anyone ever hear of the Lords Supper? Also called Communion? It’s like a mini Passover. How exciting!

You see Passover is the holiday where the Jew’s remember God’s deliverance from the hand of the Egyptians. You know, with the 10 plagues and parting of the Red Sea and all. Yep. Traditionally Passover is the holiday to remember what God did for the Israelites. And this tradition was followed all the way to Jesus’ day. I personally believe (although some would say no) that Passover was in fact the Last Supper that Jesus partook in. I say this because if you look at the Passover and what it represents it’s pretty easy for a believing Christian to see that Jesus fulfilled everything talked about in the Passover. Thus the name sometimes given to Jesus, “Jesus the Passover Lamb”. For you that don’t know, at the original first Passover the Israelites were to take a lamb and kill it and put the blood on the door post, then the Angel of Death would pass over the house and spare those inside. Along the same lines Jesus took the fall for our sin and protects us from death and destruction.

Religion lesson aside though, my point was that Easter is celebrated around the same time as Passover every year, and yet, most Christians don’t know much about Passover, if anything. Not only that but look at the modern twist on Easter! Bunnies that poop eggs? what the heck? Of course it came from the pagan spring festival that celebrated life. I know this, but this pagan celebration has wormed its way into Christian ritual… Traditional breakdown…sad.

My third point is on family. I have been blessed to be in what most people would consider a ‘normal’ family. Honestly looking at American society it seems like we are rather abnormal, but none the less we are traditionalists and we generally like it that way. Born and raised in good Christian homes, raised in the Biblical Tradition, tested and walked through the faith, my family sits at a high point on the mountain of family tradition. However most families aren’t that way. I don’t really know how I feel about that.

Let’s take an example from a 1968 pop song by Diana Ross and the Supremes, “Love Child”. This song is about a woman who won’t sleep with her boyfriend because she doesn’t want her (love) child to be shamed by being a ‘bastard’ (if you will) because that’s how she grew up and it wasn’t very pleasant. Now fast forward to today. How many people do you know that have a child out-of-wedlock? I can think of a good few. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning anyone who is in that situation. It’s not shunned or thought down on now-a-days’. And I’m not about to condemn you for those actions. My point is to simply point out the changes in the culture and society over the years. It’s interesting isn’t it?

The term Globalization has come up a lot in my Anthropology classes lately. As someone who is interested in other cultures, I find the idea of Globalization scary. We’ve already lost thousands of cultures, millions of languages and I’m sure unnamable amounts of traditions since the beginning of history and before. What more will we lose in the next 100 years? Which race and language will be wiped out next?

I suppose my point in writing this is to tell you to get in touch with whatever culture you’re from. The largest part of me is Finnish, and I’ve been discovering that history in me for the last year or so. It’s one thing to study a culture that you’re not a part of, in some ways that’s good because you get to see what the people of that culture are blinded to. But it’s also amazing finding what’s culture is a part of you, what you are made of, who you are and your history and traditions. I encourage you Reader, get in touch with your most dominant culture. Learn about them, some of the language, some of the holidays, some of the traditions. You’ll be surprised to find how interesting you really are. 🙂

Dana

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Dear Reader (#2)

You know what? Sometimes there is nothing I want to write about. Sometimes, I just want to scribble down my thoughts here without having to focus them in on one particular thing. Although I like my posts generally, sometimes it’s just to hard for me to focus my thoughts on one particular subject long enough to write about it. So this post is a break. I focused in on a few posts, and now it’s time to get my thoughts out of a funk. Perhaps I can clear some stuff up with a review of my thought life…

Welcome to my thought life.We shall begin on the left, where you’ll see some major decisions I’m balancing in my mind. The largest part of that section is the thought: “what am I going to do after I graduate”. But this thought hasn’t been getting much attention lately, because there are other things for my brain to focus in on.

To the right you’ll see my thoughts about Israel. ‘What else do I need to buy’  ‘what do I want to see’  ‘who will I miss’  ‘how will I cope’. These are some of the thoughts rolling around over there. They generally take up much of my time and at any given second, if you see me in a pensive state, I’m probably thinking about Israel in some form or another.

Related to these thoughts about Israel are the thoughts about my walk with God. This is located right below of my thoughts about Israel. These thoughts have been more weighty, thus they are below my thoughts of Israel, lest thoughts of God crush thoughts of Israel. These are thoughts such as, ‘perhaps I should read my Bible more’ ‘I know that I’m going to need to get back into that habit before I leave, because I won’t have church for four weeks, and that’s not good’. These types of thoughts plus the things that I’ve been talking to people about have led me to feel like I need to stop watching so many shows, and start cracking open my Bible instead.

Along with all of this is obviously the daily madness that I find myself dealing with, these thoughts are located right over there by the boredom section of my thoughts. These thoughts deal mainly with doing Weight Watchers and thinking about the points that I’m consuming. Nothing to fancy or fun is in this section of my brain, just the basics.

The above section is actually split in two, one section is near the boredom section as I mentioned, and the other is by the loved ones and interests section. This division of my thoughts doesn’t get enough attention, especially not the loved ones section. I tend to forget about those that I love, I don’t think about their needs or how what I’m saying may affect them. this is one that I should pay more attention to. Hopefully if I begin increasing my attention on the God section of my thoughts this section will automatically get a little more attention.

There are other sections of my thought life that I have not detailed here, but like an old home on display, there are always rooms that are closed for repair, or are just to private for the public to go into. So I’m sorry dear Reader, but those rooms are off-limits to you. My apologies.

It’s interesting taking a short tour of your thoughts. Makes you realize where your mind choses to go, and how things should be moved around…

I hope you enjoyed your tour,

Dana

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Dear Bloggers

I don’t often read much. Especially not on the internet. But sometimes, when things are slow, and the idea of trolling around Facebook is about as appealing as stalking people who you don’t really care about, that’s when I turn to a good Blog.

My go-to blogs are by people I know, or at least have met. Their ideas are sometimes inspiring, sometimes interesting, and sometimes humorous. But all of these thoughts that my acquaintances or friends post to the world are personal. Not unlike my posts, (all three of them right now). And I like that they aren’t afraid to tell the world what they think. Whether this be through pros or poem, it doesn’t matter. They are willing to stick out their opinions and take the results.

This is inspiring to me. This is one of the main reasons I started this blog. I needed to get back to what I was interested in, who I am and what I believe. To be willing to face the reality of myself. To understand my opinions and be willing to put them out there.

So I wanted to say thank you to those that inspired me to start writing. To those that I know personally and those that I’ve only met through their writings. I don’t know how long I will blog, but I do know who inspired me to do so, and to you I say thank you.

Dana

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