Chasing Jerusalem

Nov 23, 2021

The chase began almost two years ago. My husband, Andy, and I accepted an invitation to spend a year at St. George’s College in Jerusalem, an Anglican pilgrimage and retreat center near the Old City.  Andy would serve as College Chaplain and I would be the Minister of Hospitality. In January of 2020, we sold our house in Memphis and readied ourselves to board a plane in April for Tel Aviv.

Then world travel shut down. Instead of flying to Jerusalem, we drove to Florida and spent a year and a half in a little house in Sarasota. Like everyone else on the planet, we learned a new way to live. Observing the creatures and plant life in our two-lot jungle, presenting workshops online with no singing, connecting with friends and church services via zoom, playing Pickleball, and cooking dishes with spicy gochujang sauce were things I might not have done in “ordinary time.”

Chasing Jerusalem was worth the wait. After two cancelled plane flights, piles of paperwork, vaccines, visas, PCRs and a serology test, we arrived in Jerusalem on October 19. The eighteen months we spent in Florida were not wasted time. The disruption and the precariousness of our plans were good preparation for life in Jerusalem. My calendar here is more like a wish list than an actual schedule of events. In a place where stone and bone testify to thousands of years of continuous civilization, day-to-day life is always subject to change. Unpredictability and chaos are part of the city’s history and its allure.

I am smitten and infatuated with this intense and sensual city and country. Several times I have tried to write a post about our first weeks here, but where do I start? Experiences, encounters, trips, colors, smells, sounds… tumble out and collide. My words feel puny and inadequate—like my prayers.  So Instead of trying to write sentences, I toss the words and images on a piece of paper in a messy collage. Amazement and gratitude fill the page.

Psalm 122 NRSV
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. 7 Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.” 8 For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.” 9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good
Thanks to my friend Sharon P for the idea of Chasing Jerusalem.