The title for this blog is from one of my favorite christmas carols. Imagine my surprise to find that you can't actually see many stars in the night sky around Jerusalem at this time of year because the annual Festival of Light casts such a glow that it looks like permanent twilight in the Old City.
To be honest, Jerusalem really didn't 'do' it for me like I expected it to. Perhaps it was coming at the end of a long time traveling. Perhaps it was the fact that Jerusalem is built on a hill, has many steps and the heat made pushing the stroller up them harder than it needed to be. Perhaps it's the fact there is just so much to see that you need a month to do it all. Perhaps the desperation of the supplicants who had clearly travelled a long way to be there to see their Gods, and not bothered to see the rest of Israel, let alone the middle east that made me sad for them. Whatever the reason, the Holy City left me feeling hollow.
Something clings to the stones in Jerusalem. It feels like it just wants to be left alone. There has been too much fighting over it. It is restless and evasive and not a very peaceful place to be. You only need to stand at the wailing wall to feel the pain and the loss. To me I imagine it like a big memorial to human-kind's worst treatment of each other, rather than the literal ground zero around which some of the most influential religions in the world revolve.
Israel itself is a beacon of cleanliness and order that the chaos of the rest of the middle east could only dream of. The highways are straight, painted, policed, and un-potholled. The public transport system is regular and regulated. There are pedestrian malls containing Gap and Abercrombie and Fitch. It is an ironic western oasis in the desert. The whole time I was driving through it all I could think was "I wonder how long it will last".