Today was a big learning day. First I learned it was the first time in 100 years where it has snowed twice in one season. I heard from other travelers that Jerusalem was “slammed”…with two inches. The city was paralyzed.
Big deal on the weather. Though when I think about actually being out in the mud for the next several days, the weather does, in fact, become kind of looming.
The word of the day was UNITY. First unity in death: I spent the day wandering all over Nazareth. I learned that the dead – Jews / Christians/ Muslims had all been buried in the same way throughout the centuries. All in the same narrow plot. Since there is no embalming, the bodies are put into the group quickly. Without a casket and chemicals the bodies decompose very quickly. The next person in the family to die just gets buried right where the last one was.
This cemetery was kind of beautiful in this macabre way – all the faiths of Abraham buried right next to each other — all in the same fashion, and largely for the same rationale: there will be a day of resurrection and they all want to rise together. Hum…death seems to unite where life often fails.
Which leads me to the second unity I experienced. Nazareth has a majority of Christians (65%) with the remaining population overwhelmingly Muslim. There are very few Jewish residents. (The Israeli government has begun a new village close to Nazareth to establish a Jewish-only city called Nazareth Elit). But the peaceful relationship of Christians and Muslims is good to see. It’s a friendly place with constant greetings being called out. And more than that too: I was in all sorts of places where Christians and Muslims are working together to create a shared future. I saw it in a Christian owned coffee shop that was filled with smoke and men (Arab and Christian) all playing cards. Fazir told me he had worked very hard at creating what he called a “peace project.”
I saw it in a small shop run by a Muslim woman who sells jewelry made by Christian and Arab women in a local cooperative. And I experienced it all day through the people who were so glad to just have some visitors (the war of last year has dropped tourism by 50%).
Tomorrow I start walking. 8:00 AM. Apparently there are some others starting on the trail tomorrow. A group of Polish runners who I found out today are all deaf. And a Canadian who is, decidedly, a talker.
More to come.