Wailing Wall

Wednesday, October 22, 2008






The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is a coming of age book set in the South in 1964 with strong themes of love, redemption, and racism. After reading this book that celebrates female characters, I couldn’t wait to see the film adaptation. Last week my dad treated his women (my mom, sister, and I) to the movie based on the book we had all enjoyed reading. One of the female characters, May, resonated with all of us.

August Boatwright, with the help of her sisters May and June, runs a successful honey business. Since the death of their sister, April, the simple-minded May has become extremely sensitive and is given to bouts of depression. At the mention of anything sad, May begins to sing and removes herself to the “wailing wall” that she and her sisters built outside the house. May finds solace at the wall by writing her griefs on slips of paper and inserting them in the wall.

May’s "wailing wall" reminds me of the original Wailing Wall or Western Wall outside the Old Temple of Jerusalem. The temple is where the Jews believed that God resided in the Holy of Holies. The wall became a center of mourning over the destruction of the Temple and Israel’s exile. Jews and tourists of all religions go to pray at the sacred wall, where it is said you can immediately have the “ear of God.”

When I was privileged to visit this sacred site in 1999, I became both an observer and participant in the prayer ritual. I watched as hundreds of Jews, mostly men, approached the wall to offer prayers of thanksgiving and lamentations. Most read scripture, chanted Psalms, moved back and forth, and kissed the wall. Many stuffed their written prayers into the cracks of the blocks in the wall.

The most common prayer recited at the wall is from Psalm 79. Note these two verses that we could all pray.
Help us, O God our Savior for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. v. 9

Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise. v. 13

Wanting to offer my own petitions to God, I moved to the extreme right of the Western Wall to the spot reserved for women. There I tucked my written prayer of thanksgiving and supplication into the cracks. It was a solemn and momentous occasion to prayer to our Father just outside the wall that had housed Solomon’s temple.

While that prayer experience is etched in my memory, I’m really comforted by the fact that I can pray to our Heavenly Father anywhere and anytime. I can take him my sorrows and joys. I can write my prayers, speak my prayers, or even just utter a thought and God hears me.
Like May, many of us find a special place to go to talk to God in prayer. Whether it’s in a church, a room in our house, or a quiet spot outside, many of us find our own “wailing” spot. Do you have a sacred spot for prayer? Where is your “wailing wall?”
Click on the image below to visit the Wailing Wall through a live cam.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I started having my devotions in my dinning room so that I could spread-out books, notebooks, and a couple of bible translations, and also so that I could enjoy a room that I rarely use. After completing my devotions I would talk aloud and look at a specific chair and envision Jesus sitting there as I spoke to Him. I also started waiting for Him to talk back to me! It was an amazing time to cry and laugh as I could hear the Holy Spirit minister to me. I stopped doing that for some reason and I miss it but I am going to start meeting at the “wailing wall” in my dinning room again. It is a sacred, holy place when Jesus meets me there.

paulina said...

I started having my devotions in my dinning room so that I could spread-out books, notebooks, and a couple of bible translations, and also so that I could enjoy a room that I rarely use. After completing my devotions I would talk aloud and look at a specific chair and envision Jesus sitting there as I spoke to Him. I also started waiting for Him to talk back to me! It was an amazing time to cry and laugh as I could hear the Holy Spirit minister to me. I stopped doing that for some reason and I miss it but I am going to start meeting at the “wailing wall” in my dinning room again. It is a sacred, holy place when Jesus meets me there.

Cathy said...

Just think how rich our devotion lives would be if we visualized Jesus right there with us. Those 2-way conversations would be so rich! It reminds me of the lyrics to a song, "and he walks with me and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own."

 
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