by Ingrid Wright
Some call it the Wailing Wall or the Wall of Tears, while others refer to it as the Western Wall. Any of those names describe the multiple functions this wall still serves after hundreds of
At this place, large limestone blocks have been transported and stacked forty-six rows high. Twenty-nine of the masonry layers are visible above ground, while the remaining seventeen are stacked underground.
An average of one million pilgrims per month come from far reaches of the world to visit Israel and stand before this towering wall. Women, always with their shoulders and knees covered, stand on the right side of a sectioned off portion of the wall. Men are required to wear a hat and are segregated to stand on the left.
By looking down at their shoes, I notice many different people who have journeyed here to stand on this cobblestoned plaza in front of this massive structure. Some are wearing higher quality shoes with well-known logos, while others have clothed their feet in footwear resulting from more humble shopping choices.
The woman next to me is wearing a brown cashmere sweater with gold buttons. She has a wedding ring with multiple diamonds that have already reflected sunlight into my eyes twice when she adjusted the leather strap on her purse to move higher up on her shoulder. She is wearing tightly fitting jeans that are tucked perfectly into a pair of expensive looking black
boots. She noticed me looking at her and smiled, which is when I saw her necklace with a gold pendant that reads, “Muffin”. I wonder if that is her cat’s name, or perhaps Muffin is her name.
The young woman standing in front of me is wearing sandals that show evidence of many roads traveled on foot. The heels are unevenly worn, and the dirt-stained cloth straps fit loosely
around her feet. She is using a long blue scarf to cover her shoulders and is shuffling through multiple pieces of paper held tightly in her hands.
This is a crowded place, often requiring visitors to stand for long periods of time, patiently waiting until there is room to move closer to the wall. Despite the many people crowded so closely together that they can hear each other breathing, in this space every person is alone and isolated, separated by their own inner thoughts. Inner thoughts that are filled with the contemplative expectation that they will be able to connect on a deeper level to a higher more powerful source, simply by standing near this wall.
Some stand silently in deep meditation, while others rock back and forth crying out for God to hear them. This large wall is a haven for faith-filled visitors to come and worship. It allows spiritual people in this world a place to safely unite.
Moving closer, with now only one woman standing between me and the wall, I can smell the scent of damp stone. It is musty and humid reminding me of my uncle’s cellar where he stores his expensive bottles of wine, along with buckets of potatoes and onions freshly picked from his garden.
Green fern-shaped bushes dot the entire surface of the wall, able to grow and thrive in the spaces between some of the wet stones.
So, at this place, thousands of people bring their personal prayers and requests, many written on pieces of tear-stained paper, to stuff into the cracks and openings between the stones. I brought three prayer requests, all written on one yellow sticky note, rolled tightly into a cylinder small enough to stuff into one of the unoccupied crevices.
Earlier this morning when deciding what to write, I wondered if my requests could be like what I might ask a genie from a magic lamp. Thinking that God might not appreciate me asking for a room loaded with gold and brightly colored jewels or a closet full of designer clothes and purses, I thought it best to humble my requests.
Moments later, I stuffed my requests into a tiny opening in the wall. As I turned to leave, I felt an overwhelming sense of calmness and peace, which stayed with me as I made my way
back through the anxious crowd of women, who were still waiting.