Why must we be shaken in order to bloom?
Over winter break, I was honored to go on a Christian Pilgrimage with Wake Forest School of Divinity, as part of our multicultural context requirement. For those of you that I’m only beginning to know (or haven’t yet met), understand that traveling to a foreign country is not easy for those of us with a family. My husband is a real trooper. But, upon take off, he became responsible for a 15-year-old human. We also have two six month old puppies as well. Eleanor is a black and white Husky and Penny is a beagle/retriever and she is absolute trouble. Point being…there is much to be responsible for at our home. But, I was blessed to be going anyway.
I began my journal the night before we were to fly out and listed my trepidations. The beginning of the trip was fairly easy. We stayed near the Sea of Galilee for a week and it was meditative. We walked where Jesus walked, baptized our friends in similar robes and river that Jesus was baptized in. It was clear to us that Jesus walked and talked, danced, taught and fellowshipped, prayed and lamented in the very places that we tread.
The next part of our journey included Jerusalem and some of the surrounding areas. Here is where I must tell you, I struggled. Jerusalem is crowded and there were pilgrims like us at each and every location we visited. The land in and surrounding Jerusalem is sacred to Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike. And, I would be remiss if I didn’t say it was a barrage to the senses. Everywhere people were elbowing to get their turn, to touch the tomb, to be the closest to this “holy action” or “holy scene”.
I prayed so much those first few days in Jerusalem. And, I would happily sit down with you personally and share my photos, journal entries, and experiences. However, for now, those feelings and experiences are still beyond my capacity to articulate. We saw fantastic expressions of religion and spirituality in Bethlehem. But, that experience juxtaposed the graffiti of Aida Refugee Camp. We were treated so kindly by both Muslim and Jewish hosts. However, that was the flip side of a coin where injustice to our Palestinian brothers and sisters remained prevalent.
I keep reading my journal over and over. It’s nearly fifty pages and chronicles my fifteen day journey as a pilgrim with friends, colleagues, and fellow Christians. I witnessed the beauty of baptism in the Jordan River and a faith community that surpassed my previous understanding. But, I also witnessed oppression and felt the tension of this holy place. Both experiences were part of the gift.
Yes, I went to the Holy Land. But, my experience is beyond words. On one of our last days this question was asked of us. (It’s ironic that I have it bolded in my journal with a flower doodle surrounding the words.) “Why must we be shaken up in order to bloom?” I don’t even remember the context of the question. Did I see it as grafitti? Was it mentioned in worship? I have no idea, but I wrote it down and it stuck with me, it meant something. Today, as I flip through my journal, attend class, and interact with those of differing perspectives, I’m once again “shaken”.
Monica is a wife and mother whose previous experience includes restaurant management and youth work. Monica is pursuing a concentration in Food and Faith with hopes of being ordained in the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church).