News from Jerusalem

Abu Musa, Israel

Winter is coming to a soggy end, reports Fr. Barry Bercier, A.A. The almond trees cover themselves with sweet white blossoms, even before they put out their leaves. The Jordan valley, usually brown and dry, is streaked with green.

Father went up to Galilee to visit an old friend at his kibbutz by the foot of Mount Gilboa. And while there in the north, he stopped by to see the lake which was filled up to the brim, when just a couple years ago the water was catastrophically low, with boats lying sideways on the ground where before they had floated ten meters above it. The Jordan is flowing all the way to the Dead Sea and the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism. He watched as people were being dunked in the muddy water. Some of them seemed very earnestly trying to baptize themselves!

Barry stopped by at Abu Musa, too, a site in the Judean Desert east of Jerusalem, where Muslims gather once a year to look across the Great Rift Valley to the Mountains of Moab from which Moses -Abu Musa- looked longingly to the promised land which he never was to enter.

Several new residents have arrived at St. Peter of Gallicantu, two young women volunteering for the Catholic Patriarchate, a young man from Paris studying Hebrew and Arabic and a Hungarian studying art at the Bezalel Academy. This school was founded just about the same time as Assumption University, during the years when Israel was coming back into its life on this land. Its purpose has been to open the way for a distinctively Israeli art, modern but with living roots in her antiquity. Israel is intent about dealing realistically with the modern world while keeping itself bound to the covenant that goes back to the days of Abraham. For all its troubles, something luminous still hovers over the hills and valleys of this place.