Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pilgrimage Reflections   Our Similarities
Tanya Marshall 

He (Jesus) said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Mark 10:14)

During our pilgrimage in Israel, I was struck with how similar people are everywhere. Here we were in a land 1/3 of the way around the globe, where people spoke different languages, signs were written in strange looking characters, many women wore hijabs (a type of head-scarf), Orthodox Jewish men had side locks, and we heard Muslim calls to prayer broadcast through the streets at 4:00 a.m.
But then would come a moment that showed how similar we all are. Three experiences occurred within about two days that illustrated this for me in regards to children.

First, as we were walking through what seemed to be a very serious political/military checkpoint near the Old City of Jerusalem, a group of 20-30 school boys approached (6 – 10 year olds), all 77 dressed alike, with a couple of teachers. Maybe it was a field trip, maybe a religious class? But they were rowdy, loud, energetic, laughing, and chasing each other, and the teachers were trying to calm them down and keep them in line.

Second, later that day we were waiting at a bus stop for Elias, our driver, to pick us up with ouran. I leaned on a ledge near three girls that looked like sisters, maybe ages 5, 8, and 12. 1 simply asked the middle one her name, hoping she knew some English. She said it was Denya (spelling?), and she asked my name, and then excitedly told it to her older sister. It was a short dialog, but we made a brief connection and shared some smiles.

Third, one evening our whole group was invited to dinner at the tour company owner’s mother-in-law’s home in Beit Sahour, a neighboring town to Bethlehem. There were four generations of this family there, including the three children of the tour company owner (ages, 3, 5, and 7, I think).
 George, the 5 year old, and I had a fun talk about the tricycle he sat on, his sisters, his age, his school – typical things anyone can talk about with a child. Then he gave many of us stickers, and sang “If I Were a Butterfly,” a children’s song I hadn’t heard since 1982!

A world apart, but these were typical exchanges that could happen anywhere. What a blessing to see we’re not so different after all, but all God’s children, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for the reminders that no matter our nationality, color, or creed, you are the Creator of us all. Help us to work for peace and unity, through Christ. Amen.

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