From Karmen Kaufmann
Today was all about different perspectives, and boy have they changed and evolved and changed again over the course of the day.
I woke up this morning jet lagged, tired, and still a little sore from the grueling flight here. Without any time to drink a cup of coffee, I ran to Morning Prayer at 7:00 a.m. today. Somewhere in the middle of the Collect for Purity, I realized I didn’t need any caffeine—this would get me going for the day.
After Eucharist, we were greeted by Archbishop Hosam Naoam, who told us about his ministry in his wide reaching diocese.
Our amazing tour guide, Iyad, started the day with perspectives from the local Palestinian Arab Christians here in the West Bank. I was ready to start forming my own opinions on the whole Israeli/Palestinian conflict (my own hubris showing after just a few hours here in the Holy Land), when he said, “Don’t make an opinion, just continue taking it all in… by the end of this trip you’ll be even more confused by it all than you are right now!”
Then we headed up to Herodium, where King Herod had his elaborate palace-fortress overlooking his kingdom. The views from the top of the mountain shifted my perception of the Holy Land. With the breathtaking view of the Judean Desert, the Dead Sea, and the Jordanian mountains in the background, suddenly the stories I’ve been reading my whole life came into color.
After an amazing lunch at Orient Restaurant (check out Zack modeling for all of us in their banquet hall!), we headed back to East Jerusalem to get our bearings for our neighborhood and get a feel for what life is like for the locals here—where they buy their spices, and get their stamps, and go to the bookstore.
We just wrapped up Evening Prayer in the chapel of the Cathedral. I walked in to hear Ruth Cunningham, one of the members of the choir, singing a plainchant, and the beautiful sounds echoing and washing over all of us. And suddenly my perspective shifted one more time.
I’ve only been here for 24 hours and I know this trip will change me forever. Here’s to new food, and new sounds, and new people, and most importantly, new ways of seeing the stories we read each Sunday.