|Rama Jyoti Vernon||
This is the second in a series of writings about my trip to the Middle East in May 2015
Al Aqsa Mosque sat on top of the Western wall of the Temple that many centuries ago was the site of the great temple of Judaism. A few yards away from the mosque was the beginning of the Via Dolorosa, the 14 Stations of the Cross where Jesus made his painful journey to his crucifixion.
The power in the region is so great that many seers say that there is a portal over Jerusalem as a spiritual center of the world. I have even speculated that it might be an inter-dimensional vortex of the collapse of time where the battle of the Bhagavad Gita continues to be fought between the light and dark forces. The question here is…who is the light and who is the dark? Could it be that this portal is the Yang/Yin that symbolizes the light within the dark and the dark within the light, from individual to global.
The day after arrival, our group was whisked away from Jerusalem to the West Bank. The multi-tiered freeways astounded me. They were in better condition than ours in the U.S. Again I struggled to transcend comparisons.
We passed by walls and fences of barbed wire that looked like internment camps. That’s Bethlehem, our Palestinian driver pointed out with dispassion. Oh God I thought, here it goes again, another comparison. My memory of Bethlehem never looked like this.
We arrived at the checkpoint expecting to be held up for one or two hours, but our van was waved through without even stopping. We were all pleasantly surprised and even shocked! We entered the town of Ramallah where we were to teach the next morning. Again, my surprise was evident. The old small buildings built with Jerusalem stone were gone. In their place were gleaming white high-rise apartment buildings spreading across the hills and mountaintops. And, Israeli settlements dotted the skyline here as in West and East Jerusalem. These were the “settlements” that were built, despite several rounds of “Middle East peace talks” when it was agreed that no more settlements would be built. There is a biblical statement that says, “He who controls the mountain tops … controls the valleys beneath.” They were the monumental gestures of a conqueror who had vanquished a marginalized foe.
Three in our group were staying at a very modern Palestinian Bed and Breakfast. Sraddha and I were staying with the first woman we communicated with at the beginning of this project, one and a half years ago. It is always a feeling of success when one’s vision manifests on the physical plane. Her apartment was beautiful and spacious with white tile and marble floors, white walls, white Egyptian cotton and white floor-to-ceiling drapes that billowed with the breezes from the balcony doors. The view from the deck stretched to Tel Aviv and on a clear day, it was possible to catch a glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea. A nearby Islamic Minaret belted out its Arabic prayers five times a day in the call to prayer.