Jerusalem from Above

Trip Start Sep 27, 2008
Trip End Oct 18, 2008

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Flag of Israel  ,
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Old Jerusalem can be parsed and counted in many ways: 7 gates in (Stephens, Herods, Damascus, New, Jaffa, Zion, Dung), 4 quarters, 3 religions, but to me--there are 2 ways that make more sense...Rooftop Jerusalem and Street Level Jerusalem.

I'd read in one of the tour guide books that Jerusalem became overburdened with spiritual significance: Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son, Solomon's temple, Christ's life and death, Muhammad's night journeys. And I'd read that it was small and humble. I imagined it would be steeped in history, religious or political significance on every square inch.

What I came to realize is that Rooftop Jerusalem is the spiritual, the calm, the retrospective. It's vastly different from the chaotic humanity and narrow streets below.

On rooftops you have a view of the whole of it--the golden Dome of the Rock, the Lutheran tower, the Holy Sephulcre's domes, the green lights of minarets, the Israeli flags and menorahs, and the thousands of satellite dishes worshipping to the southwest. Up here, you can see people working, hanging laundry, praying, admiring the view. You can better hear the church bells ring and the mosques' call to prayers. You can hear the faint mumble of people talking, laughing and the clattering of dishes. You can see over to Damascus gate and the colorful strung lights. You can see the sun and feel a breeze.

And you can see beyond the old walls of Jerusalem--the golden onion domes of Mary Magdalene's church on the Mount of Olives beside the slope filled with Jewish graves, you can see other parts of Israel and Palestine in the distance.

It was the most relaxing thing in Jerusalem--to sit up on our hotel rooftop and take it all in. We began having breakfast up there--and spending time there again in the afternoons and evenings...just quietly looking and/or plotting our days. "what will we do today? what's open when? (another little trick because of the 3 sabbath days...Muslim = Friday, Jewish = Saturday, Christian = Sunday)" Can't tell you how much we loved that rooftop! We wished that the hotel had served some refreshments up there--juices, coffees, something! We might have stayed up there feeding the stray cats, reading, enjoying the sun and wind--or just staring at the amazing view of Jerusalem before us.
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