[I wrote this last November while sitting on the steps overlooking the Western Wall of the Jerusalem Temple.]
I have just prayed at the Wall, slipping a number of tiny prayer sheets into the cracks in hopes that…
Wait a minute; this can’t be right. I don’t believe God is a being separate from the universe who hears prayers and grants or ignores our heartfelt requests. I believe God is the Source and Substance of all reality who manifests as and transcends creation.
I believe the power of prayer is its capacity to shift my consciousness from Mochin d’Katnut, narrow mind, to Mochin d’Gadlut, spacious mind; from selfishness to selflessness; from the part and partial to the whole and holy. I pray not to be heard, but to hear; not to be present to God but to be revealed as God, the One Who is all things.
I don’t believe in chosen peoples and promised lands. I don’t think God plays favorites or deals in real estate. But I do believe—no, I know, I experience— that there are certain places on this planet that hold deep promise for personal and planetary transformation and renewal. Israel is one of these places.
When I walk the streets of Jerusalem and allow the city to work her magic, shifting me from narrow mind to spacious mind, I walk with Solomon and feel the call to wisdom; I walk with Jesus and feel the call to love; I walk with Mohammed and feel the call to surrender.
When I walk the Baha’i Gardens of Haifa, I walk with Baha’u’llah, the 19th century Persian prophet, and hear the call to universal justice. When I walk the winding streets of Safed, I walk with Cordovero (1522-1570) and hear the call of the Ineffable.
For me, Israel is all about walking with God and God’s prophets. I am less concerned with the Israel of Ben Gurion and more with the Israel of Ben Abuyah (yes the first century heretic and iconoclast, there is nothing more Jewish than that). For me Israel is more about the Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Garden Tomb, and the Shrine of the Book than it is about politics, warfare, or the rapture.
The promise of modern Israel is the hope that it can live up to the promise of timeless Israel.
I believe that humanity is the early hours of a spiritual renaissance, and I come to Israel to hear the clock tick. I come here to be reminded of the new covenant promised by God in Jeremiah, a covenant written on our hearts revealing a God within calling us to godliness without.
I walk streets with diverse people some praying for the old times, others for the end times. I pray for the new times. So I walk and I listen and I hope that my next step will be my first step in God, with God, as God.