|Al Aqsa mosque.|
A helicopter hovers overhead, drowning the evening silence. Streaky white clouds hang like the sagging palm fronds of a sukka. The pale setting sun ignites the fringes. There is a an unexpected stillness in a city that has caused great commotion throughout history. Here I am laying on the rooftop of Old Jerusalem, the Al Aqsa Mosque just off to my right, layers of human struggle buried beneath my dusty feet.
My friend and I took the crowded 470 bus north from Be'er Sheva this afternoon, headed toward our first glimpse of this Holy City. The dusty Judean Desert slowly gave way to patches of greenery as the miles fell behind us. Orchards started appearing across the undulating landscape. As the bus began its steep ascent I imagined the ancient pilgrims climbing across those rocky ridges, their challenging journey taking on a larger metaphor as they struggled through the questions of life on their way toward the Feast. Toward Jerusalem.
I'm standing now on the wooden rooftop railing of the Citadel Hostel, my bed for the next two nights. The sky above me is on fire, igniting the Dome of the Rock. Suddenly, as if triggered by a specific hue of pink in the sky above, a husky-sounding choir from a dozen minarets across the city spontaneously erupts. Their enchanting call to prayer billows up and falls away like the sunset clouds. As suddenly as it started it ends, and the humming helicopter resumes his mastery of the evening stillness. - Isaac Hatton, MSIH first-year student