Monday, July 14, 2008

Bethlehem: the things that made me cry [the Intercontinental]

The hotel sits empty. White stone and glowing candle light.

Survivor of two world wars and a hundred years of human history, it contains an elegance that only age can bring. A grace earned by living. By surviving.

Inside, the night smells of jasmine. Running water. Bright hibiscus. Beauty within walls. In the face of perseverance.

The ceilings are high. Chandeliers and Arab glass. Art and carved stone.

Each table setting is ready. Waiting. Blue goblets, elegant silver, fine china.

But there is only silence.

How does one carry on? Keep waiting, day after day.

Is it through faith? Or hope? Or love?

What grants this kind of courage? To maintain beauty in the midst of nothingness? To prepare each table every night, when no guests come?

For who would want the hassle? Six hours in line to come to the West Bank, when it is so easy, so simple, to stay on the Israeli side. To see only what the soldiers tell you to. Want you to. To know nothing of Palestinian courage. Of beauty that defies violence.

If Christ can be manifest in a building, he was there that night, at the Intercontinental. There in the relentless clinging to hope -- the rejection of despair. There in the waiting and the faith.

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