Friday 6 December 2013

Pax Dei—Living in Peace 5

Dona Nobis Pacem

Jerusalem, city of peace. “During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.” (
(above Youtube link is to a BBC documentary:

I am in Jerusalem. It is almost the start of Shabbat. I am heading from my friends' house in the Arab Quarters, through a security check point, towards the Western Wall. Sometimes referred to as the Wailing Wall, this unmistakable landmark is part of a retaining wall that still remains intact from the second temple--begun around 436 BC and destroyed 70 CE. It is a two-minute walk.

A chill is in the air and a sense of magical expectation fills my heart. The twilight is slowly descending and a crescent moon is slowly rising over the yellowish, limestone buildings. I put on a kippah (head covering) and make my way to the wall itself, passing hundreds who are praying, chanting, singing, swaying, repetitiously and rhythmically bowing, circling in fraternal groups, and/or clustering for discussions and teaching sessions. I touch the wall. I rest my forehead on it. I am transfixed to it, caught up in the social, spiritual, mystical revery around me.

From my depths wells up a core yearning, a vocal plea to Adonai. A prayer of the Church throughout the centuries for humanity—a humanity composed of all peoples that like Jerusalem has been ‘destroyed, besieged, attacked, captured and recaptured.’ Over and over again my invocation earnestly flows into the ancient stone wall, passing through it effortlessly in order to resound across dimensions in saeculi. The intimate-transcendent Most High is listening:

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, 
miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, 
miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, 
dona nobis pacem.

Perhaps 15 minutes have passed. I gently detach myself from the wall. Transitioning from the ethereal, I look upward. And the peaceful, early-evening sky smiles at me. 

Pax Dei
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
    a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
    the best of meats and the finest of wines.
 On this mountain he will destroy
    the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;

    he will swallow up death forever.

The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
    from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
    from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.
 In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God;
    we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
    let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

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