On the same trip to Israel that I posted about earlier this week, a participant in the workshop I was photographing took me on a tour of Jerusalem. Weaving through the throngs of people, I was struck by the diversity of belief systems, all crammed together in such a small sacred held place.
Reviewing the photos from that day I am reminded of feelings I experienced on this trip as well as trips to Turkey, comprehending what it meant to be a woman in lands where rights are visibly taken away and blame put on this nurturing gender for many of the ills of this world.
My tour guide told me the story of a German Prince who had come to Jerusalem and built a huge church to represent his beliefs so he could have a place to worship when he was in the Old City. As we descended the stairs to the lower floor, a scene I shall never forget came into view.
Lying supine and surrounded by somber mosaic religious scenes, was a statue of Mary. He said, “This religious order believes that original sin was introduced by Eve, when she had sexual relations with her husband for the first time.” That one took me by surprise. But it made perfect sense in light of how women have been viewed in the world.
Women are not the only ones feeling separation. Christians, Jews, Arabs–all experience separation in their lives depending upon where they are trying to go. At the Golden Mosque, though the Christian tour group could walk around this beautiful facility (as I could as well as my guide), only Muslims were allowed to actually go inside.
My personal experience with separation due to belief systems goes back to my childhood and as a young adult. Raised in a religion that requires strict adherence to its rules or you are ostracized, I opted out at a young age and have suffered decades of separation from my family that still consider their way the only way. Coming back to Arkansas after being away for so long, it feels like there is some unfinished business in this area–as if it is on my shoulders to repair this separation rift brought about by a belief system.
This small separation rift, minuscule compared to the global scale, seems impossible to break through. However, I have peace about the situation. Allowing God’s love and peace to radiate out from within us will assist in healing those global pains. That peace is limited only by our own barriers of separation.
IF YOU HAVE NO PEACE, YOU HAVE NO POWER!