Thursday, January 19, 2017

"I Once Stiffed A Nun"

I don’t know if it’s anywhere in the Bible or if it’s just “conventional understanding” amongst the Believers.  But I imagine there is a nasty afterlife “payback” exacted for deliberately stiffing a nun. 

And I’m gonna get it.

Because I did that.

I am hoping this confession will mitigate the prescribed penalty.  But I don’t know.  The “Confessional Drop-Down” is unlikely to traverse ecumenical boundaries, applying only to “team players”, not to culpable outsiders, notwithstanding the fact that the predominant character in that celestial scenario was originally one of us, before things took a startling, inspirational “turn for the better.”  See (the definitive):  “How The Jews Lost The Lead”, written by Earl Pomerantz.


I go to Israel with my grandfather.  He’s affiliated with a tour; I’m not.  We fly there and back together, reconnoitering regularly during the two-week excursion.  The rest of the time I am entirely on my own, following an itinerary tailored to my personal specifications.  (It is unlikely I would embark on such an independent undertaking today.  You get old, you want to tour guide and a bus.  Due to an predictable dip in “adventuresome-osterone.”)

I like history, including Biblical history.  I visit “Abraham’s Tomb”, hoping it is actually Abraham’s tomb, not some randomly selected hole in a mountain they slapped an “Abraham’s Tomb” sign in front of.  It looked believably “tomblike” to me, but, hardly an archeological authority, I could have easily been hoodwinked.

I visit, more confidently, the Sea of Galilee because it is demonstrably the Sea of Galilee and not a giant hole they filled up with water and said, “Jesus walked on this.”  At least I don’t think they did that.  The place is basically a desert.  Where would they get all that water?

Here’s how small the country of Israel is.  My self-styled itinerary called for me to fly to the northernmost region of the country to visit a never-met cousin who lived in kibbutz Kfar Blum since the earliest days of Israel’s existence.  When inclement weather conditions caused my scheduled flight to be cancelled, I was surprised when they offered to drive me there instead. 

Imagine!  A plane flight to the northernmost boundary of the country, replaced by a doable four-hour car drive.  It’s over a six-hour drive from Los Angeles. to San Francisco, and you are still deep in California.  You drive north six hours in Israel and you’re in Lebanon.   

Anyway, I am “foot-dragging”, dreading my unpardonable “Moment of my Shame.”

All right, said the Nike slogan swallower, let’s Just Do it!  Swoosh! 

While staying in Jerusalem, I found accommodation at the East Jerusalem YMCA (which they anagramically called “Eemka.”)  Our trip’s timing was fortuitous.  We went three years after the 1967 war.  With Israel’s victory, the captured Old City of Jerusalem was now available to all travelers.

Unlike, say, the New York YMCA, which looks like a building – and a somewhat seedy building at that – the East Jerusalem Y of that period – Internet pictures reveal a less evocative replacement – reflected the architectural configuration of a traditional Turkish palace, replete with wicker window treatment accessorizing and multiple, spiring minarets.  Nothing grand, like a potentate’s residence.  A diminutive replica, housing the potentate’s gardener.

Anyway, the primary appeal of the place, beyond its Y-appropriate pricing, was its incomparable location, two blocks from the Ancient City of Jerusalem, adjacent to which stood the redoubtable “Western Wall”, a two-millennial-old construction, which, along with “Stonehenge”, are the only landmarks I have ever visited generating a palpable, electrical “Force Field.”

There is little that is more exhilarating for me than to walk in a place people walked in in Antiquity, a place that, minus the neon, felt intrinsically unchanged.

So there I am, exploring the Old City.  And I hear a voice say,

“Excuse me, sir.  Would you like to visit the ‘Stations of the Cross’?

I turn in the speaker’s direction,

And it’s Sally Field, from The Flying Nun.

Except it’s not.  It is instead the genuine article.  Speaking to me, from the Cradle of Religiosity.

So, as it was Biblically foretold:

“He wandered aimlessly in the Land of his Ancestors, and lo, a voice from the multitudes offereth a tour.”  

To Be Continued…

God willing.

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