My heart is where the earth moves

The Japanese people’s response to the catastrophe in their country has filled me with awe. My heart is with them.

Ever since 1999, when the late pope John Paul II wrote to his flock prior to his second visit to the Holy Land, “Let us set out in the footsteps of Jesus,” more and more Catholics have been responding to the pope’s call. None, however, has had the stature of a recent arrival, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the diminutive French Carmelite nun known as the Little Flower of Jesus. After her death of tuberculosis in 1897 at the age of 24, her memoir, The Story of a Soul, made her one of the most popular saints of the twentieth century.

St. Thérès’s relics have toured the world for years, and in response to a request made in 1977 they finally arrived in the Holy Land this week for a two-month sojourn. An apostolic delegation received them at Ben-Gurion Airport. Among the places where they are to be venerated are Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth, Nablus, and Gaza.

The relics of St. Thérèse of Lisieux receive a warm welcome at Ben-Gurion Airport this week. (Courtesy of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

Israel hopes that 4 million tourists will visit this year and that the number will rise to 5 million by 2015. But where will they all sleep? One or two at a time can try my one-room B&B (Bed and Breakfast in Old Katamon).

Some of the others can check in at one of nine youth hostels that are to be upgraded and expanded over the coming years for use by visitors of all ages. Two hostels, in Acre and Poriya, will open to the public in May and June.

Three young Jewish men on an Alaskan Airlines jet from Mexico City to Los Angeles caused a security flap by engaging in what England’s Daily Mail referred to this week as “a bizarre Jewish prayer.”

The three men, Mexican nationals, had put on phylacteries (tefillin), which are cubic boxes containing verses from the Torah, bound to the forehead and the arm with leather straps. Alerted by an alarmed flight attendant, the pilots locked down their cockpit. The plane was met at LAX by police and firefighters, and the three men were detained for questioning by the FBI before being allowed to continue on their journey.

One of the dangers of looking for yourself on the Internet is discovering that there’s more than one you out there. Just Google your name and you’ll see what I mean. That’s why my introductory piece on this blog was titled “Who I am and who I’m not.”

The concept of the doppelgänger has intrigued me for years, especially since the doppelgänger in the English Gothic novel was to have been the topic of my (never-completed) doctoral thesis.

Recently I discovered that I have a subscriber named Esther Hecht. I suppose that “me-but-not-me” is curious to know what this me is up to. I just want her to know that the feeling is mutual.

My blog setup enables me to see Internet search terms that have led individuals to my writings. I was intrigued a few days ago to see a search term in Arabic. I looked it up with Google Translate and the word turned out to be Ashkelon, which led that reader to “Ashkelon: 4 things your guidebook won’t tell you
and “From Santa Fe to Ashkelon: It’s almost like falling in love.”

Text copyright 2011 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text may be used without written permission of the author.


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3 Responses to “My heart is where the earth moves”

  1. Gerry Zoller Says:

    Thanks so much Esther, my trip to Israel, with Shruga as my guide, is one of the most memorable times of my life and now your blog keeps me in touch with all of my wonderful experiences – icing on the cake.
    Some day I hope to see you in Texas. Gerry

  2. David Says:

    Perhaps the moral for the Mexico City to L.A. travellers is that they ‘Should have flown EL AL’…

    The relics of St. Thérèse of Lisieux came to Leeds here in the north of England in 2009 and I recall seeing long lines of people down the city centre streets to see them. It’s frightening to think it was 18 months ago – it seems much more recent.

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