It’s morning here in Bethlehem and there is steady traffic flowing down the street as I sit on the balcony. In front of me is a terraced hill with an old dwelling on it surrounded on each side and above by more modern buildings. Bethlehem is for me where the contrast of ancient and modern really comes alive. It is also a city most people come to for a few hours and then leave to go back to Jerusalem, which is only about 15 miles away. It is also a city surrounded by a wall that seriously restricts the movement of those who live here, making access to schools, family and holy places outside the city very difficult. Even traffic in the city is effected because streets that once went through are now dead ends. And so it was not surprising to find a protest happening as we tried to navigate our way around.
It is hard to have hope when your way is blocked at every turn, when politicians talk but nothing changes, when it seems as if your suffering is ignored and so the people take to the streets in protest of the occupation. So we did not get a chance to talk to people or explore the Old City of Bethlehem because it was safer to stay closer to the hotel. While it is an inconvenience, it is a small taste of life here in this holy city. That is what we came to learn: what is going on here and how can we help change it. So we enjoy the hospitality of the staff and engage in conversation with one another and explore the neighborhood. Today we will venture farther out and pray for peace for this land.