Fault Lines in the Old City

Jerusalem reads like a jigsaw puzzle frozen in mid-assembly, comprising pieces that don’t quite match up. Both because, and in spite of this, it’s a place of deep fascination.

It’s a city divided by fault lines across dimensions of scale, culture, and religion. Some are marked by roads or walls, old and new, others by attitudes, hardened and overt, or repressed just below the surface of everyday life and polite conversation. But they are everywhere, and they shape most everything about life here.

The Latest Wall...

The Latest Wall…

And this place is small, so the lines divide blocks that are in tight juxtaposition. You can’t avoid contact with people on the other sides, all around… as much as you might try by building yet another wall.

The key question looking forward therefor is, it seems to me, whether this proximity, and the clearly unstable state of the current situation, will beget the compromise and accomodation required to complete the puzzle assembly into something enduring, if not perfect or divine… or will sustain or increase the pressures that have locked matters into such a state.

Sadly, I’m not hopeful.

The deeply held and unquestioned truths and rights of the fundamentally faithful who populate this place do not lend themselves to mutual understanding, no less accomodation. Add to that the connections to geo-political battles, hot or simmering, at both regional and global levels, and it’s hard to see how this magnificent place gets unstuck.

I’m afraid that more walls will be built before the existing ones are torn down.

But one can hope, walking through the streets that follow the various divides, that life will find a way. And with that hope in heart, you can enjoy the place for all of its contradictions, cacophonies, and very open questions. I did, despite the sadness of it all.

Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane

Church of All Nations ("Basilica of Agony")

Church of All Nations (“Basilica of Agony”)

The Western ("Wailing") Wall

The Western (“Wailing”) Wall

Via Dolorosa

Via Dolorosa

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