I had a lovely time visiting my homeland with my friend Sandra. We spent nearly three weeks traveling far and wide to places both old and new to me. My favorite treat was introducing her to Bethlehem, the place of my birth.
It’s changed quite a bit since I was there, but at least it’s still close to Jerusalem so it was easy to reach. My neighborhood has been replaced with busy streets and countless buildings where people of many religions come and go. The identifying structure in your modern world is The Church of The Nativity.
I had to smile over the ancient entrance built by the Crusaders (1100s) because four hundred years later the Ottomans blocked the graceful arch to keep camels and other livestock outside. It also prevented looters from bringing their carts inside.
My eyes sparkled because it might have been a practical solution to mankind, but I saw it as a way to cause every person who enters to bow their head whether they want to or not.
Perhaps that was how it got the name ‘The Door of Humility’ for even the richest nobleman was required to get off his horse and bend low to enter.
One of the things the tour people wanted to see was the place where they believe Messiah was born. We went along to find out what evidence there was to confirm that idea. After walking through the three areas where different congregations worship, we went down some stairs into a tiny room known as ‘The Grotto of the Manger’.
The space was so narrow that Sandra had to take one photo of the top part and another of the bottom part. She seems to point her camera at everything she sees. I don’t understand it so I look the other way.
I humor her by smiling whenever she shows me an image she’s captured. She seems to think they’re important. Poor girl!
Pilgrims have been coming to this location for centuries. The traditional birthplace is marked by a 14 point silver star tucked into a niche in the stone.
We didn’t hear about any blessings that would come to those who touched the star, but that’s what a lot of people did.
I started to feel cramped up with so many people in such a small, dark, smokey place so I asked Sandra if we could go back up the stairs. She was ready too.
And that is where we found it . . .
the confirmation of what Adonai has done for me.
If you look very closely at this tree of life you will see the leaves representing my family. At the bottom below the hunting dog is the the name of Bo’az, the noble gentleman Adonai brought as a husband for my widowed daughter-in-law Rut. Adonai Elohim went on to bless me through their union with a grandson, Obed.
Oh how I yearned for that boy.
In front of the dog you will see the leaf dedicated to Obed. This is the very child I hold on my lap in the account of my life recorded in the scroll known to many as Megillat Rut.
I was speechless when my eyes fell on this bronze memorial to the goodness of Adonai to me. And as Sandra would tell you this is a rare occurrence. We stood at this spot for many minutes as we tried to take in the glory of all the great I AM has done for me . . . for us.
But the tour guide was leading us onward and so we had to go. This was one time I smiled at Sandra without effort and patted her arm. Perhaps her camera and ever-clicking finger are also gifts and blessings from above.
The day is moving on for me. I promise to return again next month with more photos and memories. If you want to receive them directly, please subscribe to this thing Sandra calls a blog. And she tells me it blesses her when you Like and Share, whatever that means. Thank you for encouraging her heart.
Please enjoy our closing thoughts in what she calls a video.
Na’omi & Sandra