Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jerusalem Through Her Eyes

Imagine if you had no memory of the first time you laid eyes on the person with whom you will spend the rest of your life. Friends ask how you met and you have no answer. "Its like she was always by my side" is the best you can offer. Or if you take another second, you may compare the lack of any definitive virgin memory to a child's relationship to his mother. Yet again, she was simply always there.

I do not know whether mother or wife is the more apt metaphor to capture the full flavor of my affinity for Jerusalem and Israel. But I do know that I cannot for the life of me recall my first visit to the land and city I today call home. My family visited Israel regularly during my childhood. The first visit may have even come when I was less than a few months old, as was the case with my three week old younger brother when he traveled to Israel for Chanukah in 1990. Whenever it was, that magical moment when I first laid eyes on the walls of the Old City remains a memory I can only conjure in my imagination.

Fortunately there is a halfway station between reality and desire. And while I have not figured out exactly what that station is, I do know that it is found in friendship. Found, that is, in the emotional trust one creates via sustained communication with friends. The key idea here is that only communication has the power to bring to life our thoughts and dreams. And so only through sharing the ideas that occupy our mental lives do these ideas become real, become true.

On Sunday August 2 I had the chance to engage my lost memory of encountering Jerusalem for the first time when I showed a close friend around the city. There are many ways of communicating outside of speech-- sharing my altneuland, the Old New city of my past and present, with a close friend is certainly among them. As we looked over the city from the tayelet overlook in south Jerusalem, her living experience conjured my own buried memory. Her first sight of the morning light dancing off the Old City walls became my own. Her first ascent to the Temple Mount, first prayer at the Western Wall, first stroll towards Damascus Gate--all were wholly her own experience and yet in my sharing them with her, they also in some sense became my own.

No comments:

Post a Comment