Published in The Fiji Times as "OFF THE WALL with Padre James Bhagwan"
Wednesday September 17, 2008, page 7
It is my last night in Jerusalem. As I sit on the terrace of my room at the King David Hotel, I can see the Old City in front of me. It is quiet tonight. I look over to the Jaffa Gate, into the Old City. I see David's Tower, perhaps the very one from where he spied Bathsheeba, the mother of the wise King Solomon. It is so peaceful.
Tonight I sense a different energy from that of which I wrote, last week. I recall my own quiet moment at Ha-Kotel, the Western (Wailing) Wall - my prayer for Divine guidance. I review the past week, which has taken me from this holy city to the Golan Heights and the beautiful Shebaa Farms, disputed territories on the Israeli/Syrian and Israeli/Lebanese borders. To Mount Hermon, a possible site of the transfiguration of Jesus and from which, one can see into Syria.
One night, camped on the shores of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), I lay down on my sleeping bag and imagined Jesus with his newly called “fishers of men”, lying down, after a day spent preaching, teaching and healing, somewhere near where I had just laid my head.
As I travelled, I saw the scars of centuries of conflict. Conflicts based around the disputed possession of land. Regarded by some as sacred, by others as a sacred birthright and by yet others, as simply the only home they have known.
Standing on the ramparts of Nimrod's Fortress on the slopes of Mount Hermon, hand-hewn blocks that made this the most secure part of the Holy Land, bear silent witness to wave after wave of invasion and defence. Crusaders, brigands, rival warlords and Mongolian hordes have poured through this land in their thirst for possession, power and glory.
Burnt-out tanks bear witness to the Six Day and to the Yom Kippur wars. Wars that one learned of in high-school history classes, become a stark reality. To this reality is added an awareness of the continuing conflicts, upon which I touched, last week.
In my brief travels in this land to which so many of us feel so connected; I have met people who, daily, rise above adversity. People who, by their warmth, their hospitality and their willingness to engage – in a peaceful way – others who may perceive them as an enemy; inspire us to do the same.
Tonight, I sense a different energy in this holy city. It is an energy familiar to me because it is an energy that I,happily, feel in my own country. It is a positive energy. It is hope. The hope for a better tomorrow.
My hope for Fiji is a true and lasting peace based on a shared vision of the future. A vision, not of merely for change for the sake of change; but, for our prosperity as a united nation. The road may be difficult, but I believe that if we walk together, we can help each other along the way and together we can reach our destination. My prayer is that we find the courage to do so.
May the rest of your week be blessed with love, light and peace.
Reverend James Bhagwan is an award-winning radio and television producer and writer. He is currently on leave from the Methodist Davuilevu Theological College where he is a member of the Faculty. All opinions expressed in this article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinion and policies of the Methodist Church in Fiji or any organization that Rev. Bhagwan is affiliated with. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org