Living Stones

There’s no place else I think I’ve ever visited
or will ever visit that has so much complexity, so much beauty, such a rich and deep tradition
among so many wide variety of people. The more I learned there and the more I facts
I learned, it just brought up more contradictions and more questions and made me want to keep
researching and learning about this because there’s so much more to know. Hannah, our professor, actually has this great
quote where she says, “A lot of people will come to the Holy Land on a holy pilgrimage
expecting to see all the most important sites and that’s among all different traditions,
but then they fail to see the living stones.” That really stuck out to me because there
are, there’s more going on here than just the religious significance. So there are people that are living through
the tradition now, people that are living through the strife, the instability, that
are experiencing and cultivating the land in their own ways in the modern era and their
stories are often being ignored. I think, you know, I was so jet-lagged and
overwhelmed I didn’t even really get the chance to think about so much of the day we were
walking along this militarized border wall and that’s crazy to think about. And every time it was just pretty jarring
to be walking along that knowing all the people that are affected by that, all the people
that have been there and visited that and condemned that. When we went to all these sites you can feel
it, you can feel that there’s a lot of tension and that’s disheartening, for sure. I think I was looking to gain some clarity
about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but I just came away with so many more questions. It’s important to actually interact with people
that you’re going to be studying. It’s a reminder for me going forward that
sometimes you have to travel, you have to put yourself in situations that you’re not
comfortable with in order to get the most realistic, the most earnest response. To be able to pair the history that I was
seeing and seeing these buildings and artifacts with the spirituality side helped me a lot. I think for a long time I’m going to be reflecting
on my experience there and how it affected me learning about my Jewish heritage. And so,
educationally and spiritually it was just, it was a really impactful trip. I’ve never visited somewhere that really did
capture my heart, that really felt like I felt a connection to need to come back, because
you know sometimes you travel places and you’re like, “I would love to go back! I would love to come back.” But, this was different. I felt like almost in a way that I needed
to come back. That there was some kind of calling to come back
and I don’t know in what place or space that may be – I’m still discerning that – but I’m
still looking forward to it.

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