Most people find Divine compassion in an event; being saved from the impact of a passing car, finding love late in life at the Senior’s Center long after the days of natural teeth, finally finding a job the day cabbage soup can no longer nurture. Or they find Divine compassion through the sustained existence of specific people; the sickly grandparent who lives long enough to meet the fiancee and attend the wedding, the child on your lap as the doctor says “alright” in the PICU, the spouse returning in uniform to their rightful place–in your arms. I found Divine compassion through the existence of a place.
Before this summer, I had no idea the Little Western Wall existed. This Wall is a small part of the Western Wall facing the extinct Temple’s holiest spot. When visiting it, I was comforted by what it represents.
In the Book of Genesis, when God blesses Abraham that his progeny will be like the sand and the stars, God is giving him a dual blessing. A grain of sand by itself is nothing and yet together, grains of sand can stop the ocean. The stars illuminate the night sky in beautiful fashions and yet each star retains its own light, a reflection of an original entity. Oftentimes I feel like I’m trapped in the sand paradigm. As if we all have to fit this mold, be this one type.
A friend took me there for the first time. The large wall’s hold over me has since dissipated. Too much hype. In comparison to its larger counterpart, this smaller Wall was awe-inspiring. I was in awe that I was in awe. This Wall is refreshing. No one elbows me with their prayer books to get to touch the Wall’s crevices. I’m not bombarded with tourists trying to squeeze their notes in with the pages of history buried in the Wall. I can be as close or as far as I want and I take a seat and stare into its mystery.
This past year, I felt as if everyone was pushing me outside of their camp. As if there was no room for me, my ideas. That there was a prescribed relationship with God I had to follow if I wanted one at all. Sitting in front of this new wonder, I realized I was right, and this was God’s way of telling me.
For me, discovering a private Wall highlights the importance of maintaining a strong communal relationship with God while having the opportunity, or even necessity, if you will, to form a personal relationship with the One above. To get to the Wall, you first have to be aware of its existence. You have to be bold enough to walk through the Arab quarter, and most people will have no idea what you’re talking about, but what matters is that you know it exists.
Two days later, I share the wealth and fearlessly induct a friend into my new world. A world with private Walls. She now understands why I took her. I prod and ask, “wouldn’t it be interesting to read the notes inside?” We steal glances at requests for health and wealth. Uncrumble prayers in Hebrew, Spanish, French, and Russian. The one note that left an impact, “I will have a happy life.” No request. No praise. No thanks. A matter-of-fact statement. A command.
I carry the Wall and the note in my thoughts, reminders in case I forget.
Note: While its existence is a posteriori, it’s what we have now, so I’m sticking with my sentiments despite their historical realities.