Good Monday morning everyone. How was your weekend? Mine was very pleasant and I was thrilled to see my rose bushes starting to burst forth with flowers. I cut a couple red ones to partner with some lavender wild flowers for a kitchen-window decoration. I have no idea what those wildflowers are, but they are lovely.
Some news makes me angry. Some makes me sad. And some just makes me shake my head in dismay. What has been happening in Jerusalem recently does all three, but mostly dismay.
Over this past week, during the holiest of times for Palestinians and Israelis, fighting between the two has intensified. This report from USA Today:
“Palestinian militants fired a rocket from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel for the first time in months after days of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem.
“Similar circumstances last year erupted into an 11-day war between Israel and the militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“The shrine, known to Muslims as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and to Jews as the Temple Mount, where two temples stood in antiquity, is the emotional epicenter of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
I first became aware of this latest news from a report on NPR the other day. This year the holy days of Passover and Ramadan and Easter overlap, so Muslims and Israelis were at the Temple site at the same time. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City is Judaism’s holiest site, and it is also the Noble Sanctuary, the third holiest site in Islam and the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Most years when the holy days don’t coincide, the two groups visit the area in large numbers at different times, and there is less chance of violence breaking out.
According to the report from NPR, this year Palestinians came out of the mosque after a service and started throwing rocks and stun granades at nearby Israeli guards.
How could people go from a place of peace and prayer – connecting with their God who has to be a God of peace – to a place of conflict? What did their souls learn while they were in prayer? Were their hearts open at all to guidance from their God of peace?
This made me think of a what a man taught me about spirituality and forgiveness some years ago when I was working as a hospital chaplain in Omaha, NE. We saw to the spiritual needs of people from all faith and culture backgrounds, and I learned as much from visiting with patients as I did from my classes. On that particular visit the man I was seeing was a member of one of the American Indian tribes that lived around the area, but I can’t remember which one. He told me that when members of the tribe were gathering to pray, before they could go up to the tent of prayer, they had to stop at a post at the foot of the path leading to the tent and leave whatever quarrel they might have with a brother there. On the way back they should not stop and pick the quarrel up again.
I remember being struck by the profound message in that simple practice. If only all religions, all peoples, could adopt that custom and adhere to it.
My friend Slim Randles is in a thoughtful mood today, too, so his guest post is a perfect way to end the blog. Enjoy… And do consider picking up a copy of his book for more essays like the ones he shares here, as well as his stories of the antics of the gang at the Mule Barn Truck Stop.
There’s something so satisfying about getting out of bed when the world is still dark and quiet and resting. Making the coffee gives us time to scratch and think. Well, scratch, anyway. Most of that thinking will start after about the third cup of coffee.
But it’s a quiet time. A private time. When the world is dark, and there isn’t yet a hint of pink over the eastern mountains, it’s very good. We can relax. No one is expecting anything from us right now. Our guilt can take some time off, and we can listen to music or work a crossword puzzle or turn on the TV and watch the weather guy discuss millibars and troughs.
Soon enough, we’ll have to be out there living for others: our bosses, our customers, our animals, our fields. But right now no one needs us except the dog, and she does well on kibbles and an ear rumple.
We can look out the window at the eastern glow and wonder what will happen in the hours until our world turns dark again. People will be born and people will die. People will win honors and people will go to jail. People will create things today that live past them and people will disappear forever.
Some people will write about these things and other people will read about these things.
And then the world will go dark on us again and we’ll think about what happened in our tiny portion of this huge moving amalgam and hopefully we’ll sleep easily tonight. Then, when we arise tomorrow and head for the coffee pot, we can think about what happened today, and how it has made us slightly different for taking on the next tomorrow.
Come to us, Daylight. Bring us the new day. But do it gently, please, and slowly enough for one more cup.
Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at his Goodreads Page and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.
All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.
Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program.