|Janet, Brian, Caroline, and Vivienne Reed|
The Reeds rode an armored bus from the Anglican Church in Jerusalem to cross through the large Israel Defense Forces (IDF) checkpoint to Bethlehem, a short though security-conscious journey that they hesitated to make.
Their hesitation? In May 2002, Israeli-Palestinian fighting erupted when Islamist terrorists seized the Church of the Nativity, holding hostage dozens of Christian nuns, priests, monks, and pilgrims for weeks, and desecrating their holy site. For this and other reasons, many Western governments warned against nonessential travel to Bethlehem. Yet new peace talks among the fighting parties encouraged my friends to join today's flow of pilgrims, tourists, families, and clusters of friends.
Green light to Christmas Eve in Bethlehem
Aviah, my cousin who recently completed three years' service in the IDF elite Paratroopers Brigade, relayed this message to the Reeds when I called him to inquire on safety conditions:
. . . Tell your friends the Israeli army will protect them.
Lisa Goldman, freelance journalist/writer, resident of Tel Aviv, and uber blogger, replied to my email:
. . . Bethlehem is quiet and safe, and there will be plenty of people around. I'm sure they'll have a good time.
* * *
Seated behind these angels (waiting in their wings for the cue to perform) and basking in their sweetness and light, their wonder moved me to tears. Reflecting on the same wonder I have felt at their age and since, listening to and retelling my family’s millennia-long Jewish history, tradition, and lessons, I knew this:
We — the Reeds, Stephanie's and Angela's families, others', and mine all experience sacred time, and we all retell our sacred stories.
Today, I am sending love to my Christian friends worldwide, among them the Reeds, David and Hope, Faye and Jim, Josh, Madeline, Jonathan, Luther and Helen, Joe, James and Anissa, Danny, Marlene, Olga, Budd and family, Ellen, and virtual pals Nizo and Bronze. And, I am remembering my Christian loved ones, whose memories are a blessing: Stella, Jean, and Kathy.