Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem
Jethro, my father, is such a good Abba. He taught me what strong men look like. He has allowed me to grow just like that little bird that he cared for in the nest neatly perched right outside of our home. Abba taught me mysteries and things no man knows. He sings songs and works hard with his hands. Abba even gives counsel to the other men in our village. He is so wise. That little bird sat in the olive tree. Abba taught me to look for the one that sits on the eggs. That’s the moma bird. I watched off and on for about 18 days. Then one day I saw 3 little baby birds sitting with their mouths open waiting on food. That little momma bird nursed her babies so well. All the other birds used to sing her praises in the early morning. The music was sweet to my soul.
One day a man came near our village. He was from Egypt and out in the wilderness near Midian. My sisters and I were watering our livestock at a well. There had been some really bad shepherds who kept verbally abusing us. It was very unpleasant, to say the least. This man named Moses came and protected us from these bad men. It was amazing. My sisters and I were so happy to have a defender. After that situation, my father willingly gave my hand to Moses in marriage. It seems like Moses was running away from something but that did not matter to Abba. Even though we had different religious beliefs, Abba trusted me in the care of Moses. All of my sisters were so happy for me. Our wedding was a time of great rejoicing in my village like no other.
The new year has rolled in like a lion and the time of travailing and weeping has come. My sins have come up before me like the smell of rotting flesh. The small thoughts of anger, the sudden flash of thunder in my eye, the uneasiness of unforgiveness has arisen as Yom Kippur draws near. The entire town is meditating on this reality as we ready ourselves for this day unlike any other. It is the day of atoning our sins. I know that my Saviour lives and he ever lives to stand up for me and stand in the gap, but this is different. This is my true confession of things that I have hidden in my heart, the secret things. This is a willing sacrifice of obedience to ask for forgiveness so that I can be forgiven. It is that painful part of life where I accept that I am not perfect no more than the next man or woman. And we stand at the same wall, covered in clothes looking at the rock knowing in our hearts that this is where the glory once fell, and cry. We repent, sing, lament, and exchange the silent stare and wail. It is the place we come where no one can hide. The smallest cornered space with a small wooden bench can not escape the eyes of your sister towering above your head or squeezing in behind your back trying to put her prayer in the cleft of the rock. This is where you are seen by many little eyes and big ones too. This is where the lights are so bright the sun wants to wear sunglasses and the moon decided to take a day off. This is the place where your heart can be exposed and it’s ok. Everyone else has their heart exposed too. This is a day of see through transformation. It’s the day of the new year. It’s the starting fresh and forgetting those things which are behind. It is the solemn, quiet, fasting assembly of hearts that mourn.
The comfort lies in the travail. I can not seem to forgive Moses of the time he just didn’t do what I asked. I can not seem to forget about the time he said something inaudible, under his breath, while I was at the well fetching water for our family. I cannot seem to look past that time my sister stomped on my toe while trying to get to her little baby running from home to street. I can not seem to stop wanting the Levites to sing better and pray longer. I can not seem to find satisfaction outside of God and so I repent for even thinking I could. I repent because I want the world to be perfect and yet I know that the fullness of time has not yet come. I repent because Moses could be a better man and yet the flaws keep peeking at me. I repent because those flaws are not my own and yet they are. We. Are. One. I must learn to forgive, forget, press delete, move on, and go forward as if there was never a flawed feature in that vessel made of clay. My job is to help mend the flaws and cracks, and I know it. My job is to help the man, Moses, be the best he can be for God first. My job is to be by his side through thick and thin, sickness and health, good and bad, devastating wealth and promising poverty until earthly death comes and separates us. My job is to be there in the capacity of the helper THROUGH IT ALL. So, I repent because the one time he did not circumcise my child caused the anger of the Lord to be kindled against him, my husband, Moses. Therefore, it caused the anger of the Lord to be kindled against me also. We are ONE. What a devastation! What shall I do? Where can I run to? Daddy? Daddy? Abba? I need your help.
Ah! Yom Kippur. I long for you. The day that the great Lord of Heaven and Earth made just for me! The days have moved so quickly, the nights like a flicker of lightning and our little son is growing so fast. Between the washing, talking, cooking, building up, tearing down, and literally walking back to Egypt from Midian to accomplish all that the good Lord has put in the heart of Moses, I have become consumed with motherly duty and wifely obligation. Not to mention, my true desire to always help my sister. This newness of our life has been a quick transition into destiny and I did not appoint this time for myself. I would have waited until I was at least 70 years old but it seems like Yahweh saw fit to do things in HIS own perfect timing. Therefore I align myself into positioning. I am led by his Spirit. I yield my own personal desires to HIS. HE has been given lordship over my life. Not all seasons have been like this. But now, with Moses, my life is a bit different. Oh! Yom Kippur. The day my soul longs for. As you, Yom Kippur, have been set in my sights I must reminisce on those weights that have easily taken me down and the sins that are so subtle they can be overlooked. I must feel the arrow of truth pierce my soul while I hear the chains begin to crumble over my heart. I allow myself to feel again. I allow myself to be purged of all sin, known or unknown, perceived, omitted and accidentally and willingly blotted out of my mind. Why? Because I do want to be holy. I do want to look like HIM. And, so I allow myself to begin the journey into atonement.
As I left the Silwan Valley and approached the Kotel, Moses was walking beside me with our child neatly tucked into his kangaroo pouch. It was cute but it was also illegal. He was going to the side of the wall where only men could go and I to the other. The lights around the wall are on full blast. You can not look directly at them. The deep blanket of darkness surrounding the ruined temple is illuminated by this huge golden bulb that seems to be perched directly overhead and ominously towering over us. The seemingly auspicious nature of this golden plated bulb has been used to distract the unwitting onlooker from the simple beauty of neatly stacked rocks that were quietly put into this miraculously beautiful array that lay before me. This temple of ruins still attracts masses to itself without makeup. This is the very place that the glory of the living God fell and the ministers could not stand in the presence. It is where History was made. Cosmetics are not needed. Simplicity and truth always shine forth from an inner knowledge of beauty.
The sound of tiny tambourines draw my ear, as I begin to get closer. Then I realize it is just clay hands shaking aluminum and bronze agorots. My ear is drawn but not my sight. I approached the great wall and saw the eyes of those who have gone before me examining my clothing. The Holy of Holies can not be approached with the lust of flesh showing, and all outward signs of it must quickly be hidden so you won’t be consumed by the all mighty fire of the mothers on watch. Those eyes can burn a hole through a wool coat! As I approach I notice it is not so packed. Shew! Toda raba Adonai. I can find a place at the wall to wail. So, I slowly approach with my prepared list of who and what I need to forgive and what I need forgiveness for. I tuck it safely away and do not want anyone else to see my exposed flaws written on paper because they 100% belong to me. The walk to the wall seems like forever. I see the patient children sitting near their determined mothers in the chairs placed behind the wall. I see Ethiopians, Italians, Czechs, Koreans, Eritreans, Samaritans, Judeans, and other races of women at the wall all veiled in some way or another. My eyes look for a secret place to dwell and I spot the area nearest the steps. I make my way.
As I sit, a sort of shalom like never before blankets me as I enter into the depths of my soul. I start with my extensive list of who I need to forgive. I read my list three to five times and now am ready to go inward to examine myself before I eat and drink this cup of sorrows and woes. My eyes automatically close. It’s just You and me, Adonai, behind this veil of earthly sight, now. The journey inward takes some time. I begin to pray and I hear the “Sp,sp,sp,” of my praying, quiet sisters. We enter in separately but we all seem to make it to the same place. Suddenly a song is birthed from the depths of my inner man. “Baruch Haba Beshem Adonai.” comes from a place that I never knew existed. This is not my heart language. This is the language of the land of Israel and now my mouth has poured forth this song like water. I continue to sing it with growing intensity. I start to think about Adonai. I start to think about my grandfathers who have been found hanging from Poplar trees. I think about my fathers who were taken advantage of by the systemic tearing down of family back in my homeland. I cry and wail “Baruch Haba Beshem Adonai,” at the very thought of my brothers, sisters and children who sit in their car, open the door of their home, play at the playground, and walk down the street and so easily, at the click and heat from a fast piece of metal , they die. The tiny projectile pierces their internal organs. They die, gone from the land of the living. . And all they ever did was be. I sing louder, louder, louder. I stop. I breath. I sing again. I am screaming this now. The part where I sing “Beshem Adonai,” grows stronger like the intense heat of the sun at noon. I can not seem to contain the emotions. I become overwhelmed. The tears. The tears, where did they come from? I sing and think what did my brothers do? What did my sister do? What did my nephew do when he went to the park to play? I sing and think will this happen to my children? I sing and wail to Adonai. Why? He doesn’t respond and I keep singing. Adonai is silent during this time. I feel his nearness but my emotions want an answer now. My soul needs to know why? And so I cry and sing, louder this time. Louder, I belt out the song. I hear my sisters begin to weep, softly then open sobs. I hear movement around me as my song has awakened a sleeping giant. I began to call on the wailing women. No longer religious obligation for my sisters, this has now become an encounter with the Almighty. He is here. Alas, I feel the burden beginning to lift. I feel that Adonai is comforting me in my distress. I feel lighter and now I can begin to give my benediction to this solemn assembly of my soul to the Great Wailing Wall. I begin to see my eyes open. My head leaning on this hard rock. My hands above my head in a sign of total surrender. The chair under me seems to disappear and then I realize that I have just sung that song so long and loud that people have come to hear the mourner. I realize that it is by the good grace of Adonai that I even made it here to this wall. And so, I wipe my face, gather myself and begin to leave. It is customary to walk with your face always to the wall. So, as I leave I see my sisters walking backwards. I can not follow their tradition for my business has been taken care of. I have fully come into the acceptance of my past sins and weights that have weighed me down. My time at the wall is complete.
Written by Jerrica L. Farris