Twenty-eight hours of travel later, I am here. I have come from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, USA, to The Jerusalem Center for Near-Easter Studies in Jerusalem located on the Mount of Olives to study the religious, historical, cultural, and geographical significance of this amazing place. Civilization after civilization have claimed this land as their own and now I am working to know so well that after my time living here, I too will be able to claim it as my own.
I have been touring some of the sights sacred to millions that are literally right out my window and it had been so inspirational to see pilgrims from all nations flock to these places and feel of what they have to offer. Whether or not archaeologists have actually pinpointed the exact places that so many everyday worship at or not, they have been made sacred by the penitant and the sincere coming there for years upon years. I see the Eastern European woman crying in the Church of the Holy Seplechre, the Israeli young woman in military uniform taking time to touch the Wailing wall, the devout Muslim man praying at the back of his shop multiple times a day in response to singing from a local minnaret, the faithful elderly British man testifying that Christ lives as he point out to our group the hill called Golgotha, and I see why this is called The Holy Land.
It seems most come here for the same reason- pilgrimage. May we worship together in peace with neither walls of stone nor the intangible barriers of hatred and misunderstanding. Everywhere I see engraved on stones and sewn into fabric "Pray for Peace in Jerusalem" and I think that this is really what everyone here wants, peace. I live to the East, in the Palestinian area of the city and children and adults alike are quick to respond to my "Hello" and usually add "What is your name?" in greeting me. My professors here are Israeli, Palestinian, Christian, Jew- and the students respect each one and each has something unique to offer. Peace is possible and I am anxious to learn more about what has been called "the city of paradoxes" with millenia of history.