Saturday, February 13, 2010


We arrived safely in Jerusalem last night at about 8 p.m. local time. We will be here for the next two months--all of Lent through Passover and Easter. We are staying at Tantur Ecumenical Institute, a center dedicated to interfaith understanding that is run by the University of Notre Dame. My wife, Karla, who teaches in the Religion Department at Luther College is a scholar in residence here for these two months. Tantur is located in Jerusalem, right next to Bethlehem--in fact, the dividing wall is right across the street from the institute...

Today the weather has been just beautiful--sunny and 70. I went out for an early morning run, and as the reality of where I am started to sink in, I kept "hearing" the words of many psalms in my head...

Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy. (Psalm 137:6)

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come? (Psalm 121:1)

It is hard to write much on this first day, as everything I come up with seems like a stereotype, and I know any comments I would make would be naive. We spent the morning in the Old City and walking around the markets by the Damascus Gate. As we walked around we came across the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, went in to say a prayer--it's a beautiful, simple space; we then went up the bell tower (all 178 steps!) for an incredible view of the city. Today is the sabbath day. It seems odd, but we walked around and shopped for shoes (we needed some sandals for us and for the kids) and groceries. I have thought about coming to Israel as long as I can remember. Now that I am here, how should my days be spent?!

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