Loving our neighbor and the stranger | Day 3

Words by: Elena Baxter, Co-Founder of Conscious Magazine

Photography by: Ben Prescott and Zack Melhus, Photographers

We woke our tired bodies to seek the Israeli dawn. Not even the stars had yet retired as our small army of image bearers marched to climb the dusty hills of the Negev Desert. There are few wonders that can compare to a desert sunrise: she brought peace and promise of new mercies. We found the light, embraced the new morning, and were onward to Jerusalem. 

The Mahne Yehuda Market was mayhem, but it was honest and echoed generations of history and culture with the occasional nuance coffee shop. The excitement for the beginning of Shabbat was like hot neon racing through the tight quarters. We were amazed to find that in just hours, the market would empty out to just a quiet stone street without a trace of the former.

The Western Wall was a quick and powerful pause. It is a place of remembrance for Jewish people from the destruction they experienced. We became Israel in prayer and celebration. And we experienced the place of hope that is Israel. Shabbat dinner hosted by Nattie and Michelle of Shabbat of a Lifetime was miraculous. Collectively, we embraced the traditions as we revealed a little more of who we are to one another. Our hosts' unconditional hospitality taught us that we are to show love to our neighbor and to the stranger. We sang and broke bread, and then we toasted, and then we toasted some more and entered into rest together.