Depth of Meaning

Mosaic of Peace Reflection – Day 3

by Lee Catoe

Entrance to the cistern under the Church of St. Queen Helena.

Deep within the depths of the Old city of Jerusalem, there is a cistern under the Church of St. Queen Helena, the mother of Constantine. As you walk down the very narrow, stone stairs, it hits you that you are entering a space that has seen war, famine, empirical take overs, and yet, it remains. Once a place that stored water for the city, it now lies unused and again, it remains deep within the heart of the city. It is dark, wet, moldy and rocky, but when you open your mouth to speak or to sing, the echo and reverb is something of the divine. Ringing and bringing to life this space, the sound is haunting and yet a feeling of the Spirits of those far gone who pilgrimaged or lived in this city is deeply felt. Above are the crowds and tourists but here it is just you and God.

Not many people know that Jerusalem, as we see it today, is only the top layer of what was and is. Layers and layers of history and buildings and temples are found far below. Treasures of the past and reminders of violent histories.

The cistern under the Church of St. Queen Helena

The cisterns, hidden walls and temples, and this cities layers are but a reminder of the layers of deepness and conflict experienced by the people of this city. Christians, Jews, and Muslims have been in conflict over the land of this place for centuries and that generational trauma is ever present today. The grief of Muslim siblings lost to violence, shot by Israeli soldiers, the consistent Israeli occupation and destruction of the land and property of Palestinians, and the immense tragedies of the Holocaust of our Jewish siblings, all make for a combination of generational trauma that manifests in destructive and saddening events.

The cistern reminds us of the deepness of the conflict in Israel-Palestine but once we begin to speak and to be prophetic about this conflict, the echos and the reverb may bring change and healing. But it takes more than talk and it even takes more than polices. But with any injustice, organization and action are the ways in which we bring about change. One of the most notable things within the Palestinian conflict is that the Palestinian efforts to resist occupation is scattered by the intentionality of Israeli military and government.

The cistern under the Church of St. Queen Helena.

So the question each one of us must ask ourselves is: how do we ring out echos of prophetic movement when it comes to our siblings in Israel-Palestine? From the cisterns of injustice, deep and cutting, how do we empower ourselves and siblings to create change?



Oh God who hears our cries ringing from the deepest of grief and trauma, move us into action and advocacy for our siblings in Israel-Palestine who are suffering under occupation of violence and oppression. May we be agents and instigators of change through our faith that calls us to love our neighbor. Amen.



Stones in the Hole Seplechre where mayn faithful have walked

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)