All 24 of us are eager to make it to the Temple Wall in Jerusalem on a brilliant sunlit day promising to be a little cooler than the last days. We enter the plaza, a wide area where many people are gathering and wandering to places they know to go, women on one side, men on the other. (My photo at the top of this blog shows the actual road or sidewalk Jesus walked to the Temple. It has been excavated and the original stones are preserved and protected from tourists walking on them although you can see the walk.) Our guide instructs us where to go. I am immediately struck with the number of women worshippers of all faiths already at the famous wailing wall. This is part of the Temple Herod the Great had built before the end of his rule. It is the only remaining part of the Temple that had been destroyed over centuries of invaders. It is significant that it is the part where any person can pray, Jewish or not. I wonder if that was why it was preserved.
Before me is a three-person deep line facing the wall. We are all courteous and not pushing to get there. All around are patio chairs as if a picnic is anticipated but we realize it is because some people, women in our case, cannot stand so long as they advance toward the wall. I get to the wall and amidst the hum of prayer and soft weeping, I place my little post-it notes into the crevices between the stones. My notes have the intentions I have written so I am thrilled to know they are secure on the wall. Suddenly, a woman next to me reaches out as if she knows me and embraces me with tears and joy. Isn’t this beautiful she asks? She is African American and we both hug in a silent embrace except for our tears. I choose to sit on one of the patio chairs (a real nod to the practicality and casualness of life) and I pray for my intentions when suddenly I notice I have three more post-it intentions in my pocket! My friend Carolyn volunteers to advance to the wall and insert them. I watch her with appreciation and I, once again, breathe a prayer for those intentions. To be sure, all of you, my readers, are in those intentions!) I think of my Women’s Group at Park East Synagogue where I have given a retreat every year for 20 years and I pray for them, too. And I wonder: Why do I feel God is here? There is no Blessed Sacrament in the Catholic Tradition, so why, why do I know God is here?
The empowering experience of being at the Wall of the Temple tells me this. God is present wherever there has been someone or several—who were anxious to hear God’s voice and care in their everyday lives. The woman whose husband was abusive was there. The woman who felt insignificant because others surpassed her in her profession or even her family was there. The woman who lost a child or cannot guide another child was there. The single woman, alone and feeling incompetent, she was there also. So was the older woman who wondered if all she had done was worth it and would our God accept this?
To answer my question above, I felt God was there because this wonderful, all-loving God knew I needed to know He was there with me, holding me, telling me all will be ok. Trust me—hold on. I’m holding you.
Was there ever a Wailing Wall in your life? A place of prayer or despondence where you left it ‘all out to dry?’ A place where you were sure you were alone and not even God knew you were there? A place where you wailed and cried and wondered?
Share with our readers (who are many and need to learn our experiences of God’s love) any of the times when you placed prayers for others, including yourself, and wondered how God worked out of these wailing walls.
All of you—my known readers and my many Anonymous Readers—were in every prayer I made at the Wailing Wall and elsewhere on this wonderful journey. Remember, God hears the prayer of everyone at the wailing wall. Place your prayers there in the simplicity of your intention. God will hear it. Yes, God will hear it.