Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Undertaking

It is a cloudy Tuesday afternoon here in Jerusalem, I'm sitting in the library after doing some reading about Islam, and I can't help thinking to myself: "Clara, what are you doing here?" It really is crazy. And, I really do not know the answer. I thought I did. I thought it would be pretty basic, you know- walk where Jesus walked. Or, once you see the Holy land, you will certainly just understand what you have read about for so long. It will finally make sense! It will be so much easier to believe. Right?

What? I would like to say these things are naive, but wouldn't you think the same? Wouldn't you want the reality of your beliefs to encompass you, the moment you saw where it all took place?

I've realized I have made assumptions that are incorrect. I'm starting over on this, this journey? Well, I guess you could call it that, but it sounds pretty cliche to me. How about undertaking? Undertaketo take in charge; assume the duty of attending to; to promise, agree, or obligate oneself.
I don't know what I am doing here, but I am ready to find out. I promise to discover the real reason. 

Although things are a bit crazy, I am very happy to say that I feel more settled in. Jet lag has finally worn off, I have made some awesome friends, I'm used to the Middle Eastern food and am excited to call this place home for the next 3 months. AND I know where to get some quality ice cream. Check! Good to know I have the basics down. 

On Sunday I went on the second field study. This study was on Biblical Jerusalem. It is difficult to process all I have learned because we went to so many places! I would like to share my new insight on the topography of the land. Learning about this especially is changing the way I read scripture. Here is a reflection:

 "I lift up my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2

Israel has so many hills!! I would actually say they are more like in-between hills and mountains. They are definitely bigger than hills, but not quite how you would picture a mountain. I had always thought this Psalm was an analogy comparing the strength of God to that of a hill or mountain.  I was able to stand where this Psalmist wrote this. In those times the hills made the city very vulnerable for attack. The writer was actually expressing fear- the city could be attacked easily because the enemies could come from the hills, down to the city. But the writer pauses. I could be scared, it would be easy for the enemies to overtake me. They have the advantage and I'm surrounded. But, my help does not come from outward, it comes from the Lord. The beauty of the Psalm finally came alive to me. Maybe you have heard of the song "Praise you in the Storm" by Casting Crowns http://youtu.be/z0LV_p3HQQI  This song contains these verses. 

 "As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore." Psalm 125:2 

This later verse uses a similar analogy as the former verses, but this one holds a different meaning. The writer compares the all encompassing hills around the city to how God surrounds His people. When I was standing there, I looked all around, hills-everwhere. You couldn't see beyond. That is how the Lord surrounds His people. 

I’m struggling to continually apply this new knowledge. Some of it is easy- like with these Psalms, some is challenging. And to be quite honest, I’m scared. I wonder how this will change the way my faith is and the way I live life. I question how I will tell others of all I have seen and learned in a way that actually makes sense. I see hours and days spent to relearn what I thought I knew. But, most of all I question how Jesus walked these everyday paths and taught at those temple steps. Picturing Jesus, both God and man, right there, in someone’s town, now that is radical. 

Remains-thought to be of David's palace
City of David. (Modern, Ancient) 

Another wall from the Second Temple. The stones on the bottom are original, the middle and top stones are newer. This is the case with the steps as well. It's very likely Jesus and Paul taught here.  

Remains of the Second Temple(Another Western Wall!)


  1. Dear roomie: this is awesome. :] <3

  2. Clara, that is so awesome about the verse in Psalms, I never knew that!

    I love reading what you're learning, it's very encouraging :] love you dearly!

  3. Dearest Clara, I am so happy that you are feeling settled there! Strange that it is snowing there and the daffodils are almost in bloom here. Sounds like your trip is doing what it is supposed to do - turn your world upside down and inside out. Big questions...and so many of them. I LOVED your poetic description of your experience at the wall. Beautiful! Thinking of you back at EU. Love Linda